RARA-AVIS: Implausible?

From: Frederick Zackel (fzackel@wcnet.org)
Date: 17 Oct 2010

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    Everything about the detective fiction field is implausible. The average cop shop has a range of one-third to two-thirds of ALL homicides going unsolved. Last I heard, the national average of homicides solved was only fifty percent.

    When was the last time you read or watched a mystery where the crime went unsolved? (Not counting the "to be continued" episodes where next week Our Heroes solved the Great Crime of the Century.)

    More fantasy?

    Every detective is a fantasy figure who can solve every crime on his or her plate.

    In Dashiell Hammett's introduction to the 1934 edition of THE MALTESE FALCON, he writes,

    "Spade has no original. He is a dream man in the sense that he is what most of the private detectives I worked with would like to have been and in their cockier moments thought they approached. For your private detective does not---or did not ten years ago when he was my colleague---want to be an erudite solver of riddles in the Sherlock Holmes manner; he wants to be a hard and shifty fellow, able to take care of himself in any situation, able to get the best of anybody he comes in contact with, whether criminal, innocent by-stander or client."

    It's fantasy fiction. As Sue Grafton once said, "Fantasy is the Great Equalizer."

    It's about hitting back when in truth hitting back is either impossible or unfeasible or both.

    Spade says, "By God, I do hate being hit without hitting back" (Hammett, 36).

    If you read crime & detective fiction for plausibility, switch to swords and sorcery. You'll be less disappointed.

    Fred Zackel

    author of ... COCAINE & BLUE EYES
    & MURDER IN WAIKIKI And more available on Kindle and smashwords


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