RARA-AVIS: Re:rural settings?

From: JIM DOHERTY ( jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com)
Date: 22 Jun 2007


Re your question below:

"Hello, I curious if there have been any hard-boiled
(or for that matter, any detective or mystery) writers who use a rural setting."

Virtually all hard-boiled writers at least USE rural settings occasionally.

For example, in the private eye sub-genre, outside of the "quest object" plot, the "hunting the partner's killer" plot, and the "wench-dunit" plot, all of which derive from Hammett's THE MALTESE FALCON, perhaps the most popular PI plot is the "town-tamer," in which the hero arrives in a corrupt, gangster-ridden rural area and cleans up. The most famous example, RED HARVEST, is also courtesy of Hammett.

Other examples include Brett Halliday's A TASTE FOR VIOLENCE, Robert B. Parker's PALE KINGS AND PRINCES, Mickey Spillane's THE TWISTED THING, Richard S. Prather's THE SWEET RIDE, and Cleve F. Adams's SABOTAGE. Occasionally, the town-tamer is a cop rather than a PI, as in Horace McCoy's short story
"The Mopper-Up," William Diehl's HOOLIGANS, Matt Braun's ONE LAST TOWN, and Stephen Hunter's HOT SPRINGS.

There are also a growing number of hard-boiled writers who specialize in small town or rural settings, particularly in the police procedural sub-genre. Often the writers are retired rural cops. Examples include Donald Harstaad, a former deputy sheriff in a rural Iowa county who writes about Carl Hoseman, a deputy sheriff in a rural Iowa county; Michael McGarrity, a former deputy sheriff in New Mexico who writes about itinerant New Mexico cop Kevin Kearney; former Canadian cop who writes about Police Chief Reid Bennett, who is, except for his police dog Sam, the only member of the one-man police force of Murphy's Harbor, Ontario; and part-time New England cop Archer Mayor who writes about Vermont state criminal investigator Joe Brattleboro, whose cases are usually rural.

Hope that helps.


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