Re: Father Figure (was Re: RARA-AVIS: Positions still open)

Date: 14 Aug 2008

  • Next message: Joy Matkowski: "RARA-AVIS: Re: Father Figure"


    Re your comment below:

    "Harry Bosch has a 5 year old daughter with Eleanor Wish."

    Yeah, but Harry's a cop, and, at one time, he was Elly's husband.

    It's not at all unusual for the heroes of police procedurals to be married and have kids. And it shouldn't be. Police procedurals are supposed to be accurate depictions of law enforcement in real life, and in real life, most cops are married (or at least have been, at one time or another) and have kids.

    Off-hand, McBain's Steve Carella, Creasey's George Gideon, Waugh's Fred Fellows, Wilcox's Frank Hastings, Procter's Harry Martineau, Sjowall & Wahloo's Martin Beck, and Treat's Mitch Taylor are all husbands (or ex-husbands) and fathers.

    In the arena of the hard-boiled private eye, however, husbands and fathers are lot less frequent. Gores's Dan Kearney (and we glimpse very little of his family life in the books), and Pronzini's "Nameless," who adopted a little girl with his wife Kerry a few books ago, are among the very few.

    I imagine spies who are married with children are fairly unusual, too. James Bond married a woman in ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE, but was almost immediately widowed, and, with another woman, fathered a child in YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, but, at least in the original Fleming Canon, was completely unaware of it. Hamilton's Matt Helm had three kids, but they all came along during the hiatus from the secret agent biz preceding DEATH OF A CITIZEN.

    It's not hard-boiledness of a character, per se, that works against family life in crime fiction. It's the expectations that come with the particular sub-genre. We expect PI's and spies to be lone wolves, because PI's and spies, in fiction, are mythical figure. This is so pervasive an expectation that, as James pointed out, Brett Halliday had to kill off Mike Shayne's wife because a hard-boiled PI who was a family man struck too dissonant a note (at least for movie producers).

    We don't necessarly expect that of realistically depicted policemen, who, for all their tougness and colloquial mode of expression, are far less likely to be figures of myth.




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