RE: RARA-AVIS: Profesionals and amateurs

From: Mario Taboada (
Date: 24 Feb 2003

There are counterexamples to everything: Easy Rawlins is an amateur. Mouse may be said to be a professional, but he's crazy. Does he count? Who else is a pro in the Rawlins series? Mofass?

And how about Socrates Fortlow? He's not a professional at anything, except he was a jailbird for a long time.

Both series are very hardboiled, with amateurs as protagonists.

We should explore the possibility that hardboiled is a typology of characters and situations, not an automatic antonym of "cozy", "amateur sleuth" or "malice domestic".

I can envision a hardboiled novel *with* inspectors that takes place in a *manor* and has upper-class protagonists. To me, it all depends on what the author does with these elements.

I fear we are overstressing the formula elements in mystery writing. The genre, which did indeed become formulaic, has been and is much less so when the writer is good (or great, as in the case of Mosley). In that case, the formula is incidental.

Best regards,


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