I just finished a good mystery by L.C. Hayden, "Why Casey Had to Die." It's a cozy--no real violence or sex, mostly clues, redherrings, and a nice twist for the conclusive reveal--and thus not my normal pick, but I very much enjoyed L.C.'s crisp writing style and her protagonist, a wife-loving cop named Bronson. My question is, do you prefer cozys or something tougher? Agatha Christie or Elmore Leonard? Or do you, like me, cross over from time and time, enjoying all kinds of crime fiction?

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Generally the more hardboiled stuff, though, when Christie shined, she was untouchable (i.e. ORIENT EXPRESS).
I agree. Agatha's writing and stories are so damn clever.
I think Leonard and Christy is like apples and oranges. There's too much regarding the divide between cozy and hardboiled/noir. Just because they belong to the same species doesn't necessarily mean they're in the same family. I think you can go back and forth without thinking about which camp you define yourself with. However, when it comes to writing, I think that's where your preferences really show - but it's a choice of sub-genres, much like choosing to write science fiction instead of romance. Now that is a decision that defines us.
I don't find it as easy to go back and forth without considering what camp I'm in, but I'm not specifically talking about Agatha when I say that. The modern cozy/amateur sleuth offerings are a harder sell for me because of believability issues. To me, I don't see this as a distinction between dark and light, I see it as a distinction between realism and escapism.

I expect all books to take some liberties somewhere. By that I mean it's fiction, and I don't think 100% of everything in the book has to be technically accurate. I watch TV and forgive the form for, by necessity, doing things that are unrealistic. For example, last night I was watching a Homicide episode. It's Christmas Eve and in the squad room, at a suspect's house and at a murder victim's home the residents are all busy putting up Christmas trees. Who waits until Christmas Eve to put up a tree? That's idiotic. It's too much work to not enjoy in the weeks leading up to Christmas. At least, nobody I've ever known in my life follows that tradition. Maybe some people do somewhere, but that this would be true everywhere they go, from a drug dealer's family home to the squad room to a very wealthy woman's home where the servants are fussing over the tree? Makes it seem like the universal standard. But for the story it was essential to the plot to focus on the season, so I forgive something that in my head is idiotic as being an allowable construct to tell the story. (I even forgive The Wire for using the same license plate on Stringer Bell's car in season one as they use on a car used by Sergei in season 2, although it's a shame in both cases the license plate was referenced.)

However, there are certain things I can't accept as easily. In particular, books that have an amateur sleuth who doesn't investigate but just stumbles across all the evidence and solves the case while a whole department of police officers is focused on this high-profile case but are too stupid to solve it. That bugs me. I just can't go there. And yes, it's made me cautious where amateur sleuth books are concerned.

I don't mind what I'd call a lighter read sometimes, although I tend to read dark. But what does bother me is a cavalier attitude toward the seriousness of murder, and again, this is something I've found more on the lighter end of the spectrum. In a couple of books I've read, people have been murdered, and then when the amateur sleuth has their moment of confronting the killer and their life is threatened, they're surprised when the killer slaps them or pulls out a gun. He's a ****in' murderer! What did you expect? Him to pat you on the back for figuring it out?

That's where I can't go. Not so much about cozy vs hardboiled/noir, although the books I've referenced tend to fall in the cozy end of the spectrum.
I'm with you on the pink and lime green covered mysteries. I won't even read the blurbs. I guess what I was talking about is a good puzzle. I prefer the harder stuff, too, but I also enjoy--if it's not silly and not devoid of tension--figuring out who the killer is.

I loved that cowboy/hit-woman story in the current Spinetingler.
I don't read either.
Ok, Parker, I'll bite. What DO you read?
I should have explained. I used to read Christie (all of them), but they have become too dated for me. I don't much care for American hardboiled crime novels. I probably did read (or partially read) a Leonard at one time.
At the moment, I'm reading Henning Mankell. I have another Mankell waiting, and a Kevin Wignall, and an Alexander Mc Call-Smith. I suppose the last qualifies as cozy, but it's a cozy with a difference. I usually don't read cozies. I like books with foreign settings.
Back and forth (and around in circles) but I'll always have a soft spot for Agatha and Ngaio Marsh - they were the two writers that got me hooked as an impressionable little 10 year old :)
I don't do cozies, really, but I do enjoy a wide variety of crime fiction. I just finished Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane. Awesome. Beautiful prose, top-notch suspense, just enough sex and violence to keep it real.

I'm basically a hardboiled kinda guy. It's what I love to read, and what I love to write.
Read SHUTTER ISLAND. Thought it was okay. The prose rests on a number of images inserted in telling places, and in this case they were mostly successful (unlike an earlier novel by Lehane). There is, to me, something slightly artificial and selfconscious about the way Lehane uses imagery: the "watch-out, here comes some beautiful language" syndrome.
Hmm. I found the prose honest and lean. Stout verbs, sparse and perfect similes, very light on the adjectives and adverbs...

To me, the prose was stellar, the story compelling. Quite refreshing, actually. I'd like to see examples of where you thought it was artificial and selfconscious.


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