Re: RARA-AVIS: Procedurals (was: Jonathan Craig)

Date: 11 Aug 2002


Re your defintion below:

> Much as I love the Martin Beck series, I have to
> agree with Jim that they're
> not true blue procedurals. In my mind, the pure
> prodecural is an exposition
> of police investigative techniques, with little
> criticism of same.

By that definition, McBain, who often criticizes both the bureaUcratic pettifogging of official law enforcement and the individual brutality of certain officers, isn't writing police procedurals, which is clearly a ludicrous, wholly inaccurate, conclusion.

Neither is just about anyone else who's ever written a realistic cop novel.

Even Jack Webb's DRAGNET had the occasional critical word to say about police organziati0on and about individual cops.

As for "commenting on society" that's more common in police procedurals, given that they are the most
"naturalistic" of mystery sub-genres, than in any other kind of crime story. McBain does it. Wambaugh does it. Wainwright does it. Creasey did it. Webb did it. It's harder to think of police writers who DON'T comment on society than those who do. It was precisely the fact that the police procedural provides such an excellent canvas for commenting on society that drew the Wahloos to this sub-genre.

A police procedural is nothing more, and nothing less, than a mystery (crime, suspense, detective, call it waht you will) story in which the main interest is the accurate depiction (or at least the appearance of the accurate depiction) of law enforcement. By that definition, the Beck series, particularly the first four entrees, more than qualifies.



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