Re your comments below:
"A definition of 'thriller' that excludes vast numbers of recognised thriller writers (Michael Crichton, Alastair McLean, Peter Benchley) seems seriously flawed to me."
Who said the correct definition exlcudes them?
Didn't Crichton write ODDS ON, SCRATCH ONE, EASY GO, ZERO COOL, THE VENOM BUSINESS, the Edgar-winning A CASE OF NEED, the Edgar-nominated GRAVE DESCEND (recently reprinted by Hard Case), the adapted-into-an-Edgar-winning movie GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY, BINARY, RISING SUN, and STATE OF FEAR?
Didn't MacLean write THE SECRET WAYS (aka THE LAST FRONTIER), NIGHT WITHOUT END, FEAR IS THE KEY, THE GOLDEN RENDEVOUS, THE SATAN BUG, WHEN EGIHT BELLS TOLL, PUPPET ON A CHAIN, etc?
Didn't Benchely write THE DEEP, THE ISLAND, Q CLEARANCE, and RUMMIES? I'd even count JAWS, since it's essentially a police procedural, though the murderer is an animal rather than a human.
"The term 'thriller' can be applied to just about any genre as
far as I can see . . ."
So can the term "romance," "western," "fantasy," "swords-and-sorcery," etc. The question is, is a given term being applied CORRECTLY.
". . . and is not the exclusive domain of crime fiction. As long
as somebody's trying to prevent something unpleasant -- such as being eaten by a shark in JAWS -- it's a thriller."
I've already said that JAWS might just qualify based on its police procedural credentials. But as for "trying to prevent something unpleasant," that's just way too broad. For crying out loud, Lizzie and Mr. Darcy try to prevent something unpleasant in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (the public disgrace of the Bennets by Lizzie's ne'er-do-well kid sister). Are you seriously suggesting that P&P is a thriller, because , given a strict application of your definition, it qualfies.
Given a strict application of the correct definition (which is to say, MY definition) it doesn't.
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