RARA-AVIS: Action vs. Mystery

From: Kevin Burton Smith (kvnsmith@sbcglobal.net)
Date: 03 Sep 2009

  • Next message: davezeltserman: "RARA-AVIS: Re: Trigger City"

    Jim wrote:

    > Sure, there are plenty of PI novels and stories that absolutely
    > depend on the puzzle. Bill Pronzini's Nameless, for example, is
    > particularly adept at locked room mysteries.

    But SHACKLED was as much about ESCAPING from a locked room as anything. Man, I loved that one.

    In fact, Pronzini's restlessness in plotting and themes is one of the hidden pleasures of the genre. Not to slight Parker, but I wish Pronzini enjoyed the same level of success. He deserves it. The Spenser and Nameless series have got to be about the two longest running P.I. series around now, and in a weird way, they complement each other.

    > My point isn't that PI stories are bereft of puzzles. Only that the
    > action thriller element, whether or not it's built around a whodunit
    > plot (and quite often it hasn't been, going all the way back to the
    > beginning), is hardly a major evolution for this sub-genre.

    When you're right, Jim you're right. The hard-boiled crime novel has always placed much of its emphasis on action, right from the start, with Three Gun Terry and Race Williams. And the hard-boiled film has traditionally dumped the emphasis on its mystery elements for action long ago.

    I liked TRIGGER CITY as much as the next doofus, but it didn't break any new ground in the genre.

    Kevin Burton Smith Editor/Founder The Thrilling Detective Web Site
    "Wasting your time on the web since 1998."

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