Re: RARA-AVIS: Who changed the noir writing ?

From: Brian Thornton (
Date: 02 Mar 2007

Chris M. wrote:

> That said, the influence of Leonard looms greatly in my
> favorite writers today, even though I enjoy his books from the 70s more than
> his current work. Who could argue the influence that Leonard has had on
> writers such as Pelecanos, who is among my very favorites to read (others
> equal the enjoyment I get from a new book of his, but no one exceeds it).

Really? Pelecanos influenced by Leonard? Interesting. I don't see it. I think Leonard is funnier and more detatched from his characters. There's a (perhaps unintentional?) sentimentality that I see in Pelecanos' stuff that I don't find in Leonard's.

When I think of writers whose styles are reminiscent of Leonard's, and who are knocking 'em dead these days, I think of people like Sean Doolittle, Sean Chercover, Robert Crais, and T. Jefferson Parker (and these might not be writers who are directly influenced by Leonard, but are influenced by writers who were themselves initially influenced by Leonard, making it sort of an echo effect, etc.). Doolittle's work is especially evocative for me. Some of his passages are downright elegaic, and every novel is about something or someone completely different than the previous one (not something a Pelecanos can really say).

> Sallis' Lew Griffin series debuted before the turn of the century, but his current work remains no less relevant.

If you're going to go that route, than don't you have to mention Lehane? His Kenzie Gennaro stuff (which is vastly inferior to, say, MYSTIC RIVER) came out before 2000, but I'd argue that his writing since 2000 has been far better, and in many ways far more influential than that series.

> He's already been mentioned, but Ken Bruen consistently delights with his books, though I am not sure I will like the writers that are influenced by his style down > the road (this is not a knock on Ken. At all).

Such as? Because I see guys like Victor Gischler and Al Guthrie as the heirs apparent to guys like Ken. Have you read GUN MONKEYS? I don't know whether Gischler would cite Ken (or for that matter, Leonard) as an influence, but I certainly see some of it in his work.. Read KISS HER GOODBYE? Not sure Al would mention Bruen as a direct influence (they're friends, after all, he might not want to give him the satisfaction). Oh, and by the way, I'm half-way through Guthrie's new one, HARD MAN, and I have to say that I like it even better than KISS HER GOODBYE. Talk about laugh-out-loud funny...

And then there's Jason Starr, who has actually written a book with Ken, and whose TWISTED CITY I really liked.

> Is there anyone who has debuted since 2000 (and yes the date is arbitrary) who is blowing other Avians away? If so, please share.

He wrote before 2000, but it was journalism and non-fiction work, so I have no problem mentioning Jess Walter, who wrote CITIZEN VINCE. If you haven't read it, pick up a copy *now*. What a wordsmith!

The writers I mentioned above are all worth a look as well, for my money.

And then there's Megan Abbott.


I read her debut novel, DIE A LITTLE, and loved it. Thought she would be hard-pressed to top that, until I read her follow-up, THE SONG IS YOU, which I am also currently half-way through (I always have a lot of books going at the same time). She's a comer, and don't let the skirt fool you, her writing is tough as any fella's.

And let me not forget Eddie Muller's THE DISTANCE. Great hard-boiled writing from a great hard-boiled historian.

Your Mileage May Vary-


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