Re: RARA-AVIS: Rara Avis top 50 Crime Fiction Writers

From: Patrick King (
Date: 25 Apr 2008

--- jacquesdebierue <> wrote:

> --- In, "Jeff Vorzimmer"
> <jvorzimmer@...>
> wrote:
> >
> > > 3) Charles Willeford 317
> >
> > > 16) John D. Macdonald 120
> >
> > Willeford seems to be steadily gaining favor on
> the list, while JDM is
> > falling out.
> Curiously, Willeford has become a lot better known
> since his death. I
> would say that the opposite happened to John D.,
> even though he
> remains in print and presumably continues to have
> readers. It's hard
> to compare those two. Willeford was a true original,
> whereas John D.
> was more of a composite of crime-writing traditions.
> Fortunately, we
> can read both. John D. at his best is very engaging
> -- and at his
> worst, he is merely humid.
***************************************************** Yes. Willeford is a great writer, while MacDonald offered a laid-back rebuttle to Mike Hammer and James Bond at a time when that was exactly what the genre wanted. Who wouldn't want to win a boat in a poker game? For my money Travis McGee was too maudlin and self-effacing. It also bothers me that we don't really have a clear idea of what he does for a living. He's not really a private detective or a security guard. What did he claim he was getting paid for to the IRS? Silly books really.

But Willeford! If his characters are self-effacing it's because they have serious mental problems. His work reminds me greatly of Elmore Leonard. Willeford's humor is gentler though. Not the wildly funny coincidences, which are all too true among criminals, that Leonard brings. I recently read BLUE MIAMA and couldn't help but compare it to Leonard's LA BRAVA. Both take place in Miami. Both have main characters who are sociopaths masquerading as cops. Hoke Mosley is a more troubled, less philosophical and happy hero than La Brava. But both are intrepid and smarter than their adversaries give them credit. Loved both books!

Patrick King

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