RARA-AVIS: Re: Joe Gores as Gangster Writer

From: JIM DOHERTY ( jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com)
Date: 01 Feb 2008


Re your question below:

"I'm just about done WOLF TIME and I'm curious whether, in your opinion, you would consider Hollis Fletcher an amateur or a professional. He is clearly an expert hunter/tracker but he himself expresses doubts about his ability to transfer those skills to tracking down the person that shot and crippled him. And, on the other side of the coin, there are plenty of professional politicians, but would you consider them professional 'bad guys' in the traditional sense?"

Fletch strikes me as being similar to Curt Halsted, the college professor in A TIME FOR PREDATORS. He's not really a professional detective, but he has professional skills that can be applied to the task. In the case of Hollis Fletcher, it's the skills of a hunter and outdoorsman. In the case of Halsted, it's his long-dormant skills as a combat soldier. But, to a degree, all amateur sleuths have skills that can be applied to crime solving. What sets a professional apart is self-identification, and whether or not the character is trying to make a living from it. If he's been trained as some sort of investigator, thinks of himself as some sort of investigator, and makes a living at it, or at least gets paid for it, then he's a pro. If he's just applying skills he's learned from a different walk of life than police work (private investigation, espionage, etc.) to a specific, one time only task, then he's not.

In the case of WOLF TIME, the presidential candidate who's one of the villains is not making money from his criminality, per se. He's trying to suppress a guilty secret. In this context, he's rather like the upper-class murderer of a cozy, who's not a professional criminal per se, but who persuades himself that the crime he's committing is necessary,
"just this once," to preserve his opinion.

Just my take.


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