Re: RARA-AVIS: Peedie's Polemic

From: Peedie Monk (
Date: 27 May 2002

----- Original Message ----- From: "Kevin Burton Smith" <> To: <> Sent: Monday, May 27, 2002 1:18 PM Subject: RARA-AVIS: Peedie's Polemic

> Hmmmm... interesting definitions. But bringing the emotional
> attachment of the protagonist, or lack thereof, into the mix
> complicates things.

It was intended to clarify. Last time, as simply as possible: A "crime" novel is written from the viewpoint of either the criminal or the victim. An "anti-crime" novel, on the other hand, is written from the viewpoint of someone doing a job (ie a policeman or a PI).

> So, do I like crime or anti-crime novels? Because I can see where the
> line gets really blurred right away, at least as far as my particular
> preference, P.I. novels, goes.

PI novels are anit-crime, unless the PI is a victim or a criminal.

> Somehow, many of my favourite P.I. novels seem to feature detectives
> who DO become emotionally involved in the outcome, regardless of
> their initial involvement in the case.

These would definitely appeal to me. I'd like to know what they are, if you have the time. A was about to write that my favourite PI novel is Lawrence Block's "A Ticket To The Boneyard" (a superb reworking of John D MacDonald's
"The Executioners"), when I realised that it wasn't a PI novel at all.

>And most of them certainly,
> (or at least those who have followed the Chandler model -- which is
> almost all of them) seem to have an emotional attachment to their
> careers. It's almost standard equipment in the genre.

But having an emotional attachment to their career is only relevant if their career is under threat.

> Of course, not all P.I. novels feature a detective with an emotional
> stake, but it occurs frequently enough to seriously blur the line
> between the crime/anti-crime camps. If Spenser or V.I. Warshawski or
> Derek Strange feels an emotional attachment to a case, does that make
> it a crime novel?

Not unless they are victims or become criminals.

>If Dortmunder and crew spend most of a book trying
> to figure out who stole their loot does that make it an anti-crime
> novel? What if they really, really want their money back, though?

They'd have to join the police force or start up a detective agency.

Al Guthrie

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