Re: RARA-AVIS: procedurals?

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 21 Aug 2002

Since I sorta started this by questioning whether or not Rankin's Rebus books qualified as police procedurals, I thought I'd jump back in.

Mat wrote:

"For my own purposes, I always class this kind of book as a "Detective Inspector Novel". . . ."

Jim responded:

"A police procedural is nothing more or less than a crime story in which the accurate depiction of police work is the central element."

Why must these two be mutually exclusive? Yes, Mat set DINs up as a different animal from PPs, but couldn't they simply be a subgenre? And although I am now convinced that Rebus, for instance, does fit within the Doherty Dogma of Police Procedurals, isn't it pretty obvious that there is a difference between them and, say, the 87th Precinct books?

I would nominate Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch books as the US near-equivalent of Rankin's Rebus. I don't think anyone would question that these books are definitely police procedurals; Connelly clearly seems to know his stuff from his years of crime reporting and other research. However, there is a difference between these tales of a single, lone wolf protagonist and those of the ensemble cast of McBain's
(at least those few I've read so far).

This is not to dis McBain in any way. I am certainly not saying one of these approaches is better than the other, just that they are coming at the police procedural from different angles. And I would hazard a guess that even if they read both, most readers probably prefer one to the other, just as most rockers of a certain age will ultimately pick sides between the Beatles or the Stones.

Speaking of a Stones' fan, I just noticed that Rankin has used a third Stones album title as a book title, Beggar's Banquet, for his new anthology. (He also used a Dylan song, Death is Not the End for a non-Rebus novel.)


# To unsubscribe from the regular list, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
#  This will not work for the digest version.
# The web pages for the list are at .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 21 Aug 2002 EDT