RARA-AVIS: Re: Death of the PI Novel?

From: Sarah ( sarah@weinmans.com)
Date: 19 Feb 2006

--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, Tim Wohlforth <tim@...> wrote:

> But there is a problem with new PI fiction. Certain established
> writers are doing just fine with the sub-genre: Crais, Pelecanos,
> Grafton come to mind. I once pointed this out to a top NYC agent.
> His response was that while some PI novels hit the best seller lists
> it was almost impossible to sell a PI novel to a major publishing
> house. Go figure!

Actually, it makes sense to me. Established writers are just that -- established. Crais began his series in 1987; Grafton in 1982, Pelecanos wrote his PI novels starting in 1992. The track record and growing sales means that while they might still be writing PI novels per se, they aren't marketed as such -- instead they are "thrillers" and have the larger audience that thrillers get over mysteries. So they sell.

But new PI fiction? Yeah, aside from Koryta, Hunsicker, and Ken Bruen
(but even with Ken, he's been around longer than we realize) there's not a lot of new writers with major houses, at least not yet. Look out for Ray Banks when his next novel, SATURDAY'S CHILD, takes Cal Innes from short stories to the longer format. Dave White is working on a novel featuring Jackson Donne, who is a regular staple at THRILLING DETECTIVE (and also will feature in a story in the DAMN NEAR DEAD anthology.) There's also a possibly intriguing PI novel coming soon from Lisa Lutz, as Simon & Schuster just paid a ton of money for this book (THE SPELLMAN FILES.)

Unless you have a hook that makes your book palatable to a wide audience, it won't be bought right now.


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