I recently read a thriller, Mr Clarinet, at least that's what it claimed on the cover: "The First Max Mingus Thriller." The Publishers Weekly blurb refers to it as a thriller (and hard-boiled, that I buy). It even won two awards for thrillers, the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for Best Thriller and the International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel.
I don't see it as a thriller at all. As far as I'm concerned, it was a good, though slightly padded, PI novel. An ex-PI just out of prison is hired for a missing persons case. In searching for the missing person, he uncovers a dark conspiracy and widespread corruption. How is that a thriller by any standard? Other than a scene or two of immediately threatened violence, there was no real danger hanging over him as he engaged in his investigation -- didn't even really have a "drop this case or else" scene. It was a straight investigation. It convinced me that Dave is right, it's nothing but the marketing label du jour for crime novels. I'd think it was replacing noir in that function if I hadn't seen the two terms used together as "noir thriller."
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