By Amy Willis
Published: 2:59PM GMT 25 Oct 2009 in The Telegraph UK.

The author claims she is is fed up with increasing levels of "sadistic misogyny" in crime fiction and says authors are simply jumping on the bandwagon to get a bestseller.

"Each psychopath is more sadistic than the last and his victims' sufferings are described in detail that becomes ever more explicit as young women are imprisoned, bound, eaten, starved, suffocated, stabbed, boiled or burned alive," she told the Observer.

Authors must be free to write and publishers to publish. But critics must be free to say when they have had enough. So however many more outpourings of sadistic misogyny are crammed on to the bandwagon, no more will be reviewed by me," she added.

And the most disturbing plots are by female authors, she says.

"The trend cannot be attributed to an anti-feminist backlash because the most inventive fiction of this kind is written by women," she claims.

Natasha Cooper, former chair of the Crime Writer' Association, agrees with Ms Mann. She says women do this so they are taken seriously as authors.

"There is a general feeling that women writers are less important than male writers and what can save and propel them on to the bestseller list is if they produce at least one novel with very graphic violence in it to establish their credibility and prove they are not girly," she said.

The British market for crime fiction is worth more than £116m a year, with almost 21 million books sold.

Women account for more than 60 per cent of the readership with females over 55 the most avid readers.

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Forgot to plug myself:

The protag of my current novel (in progress) is a fat gang widow who solves a murder case and gets the guy. Watch for it!
Great protag, Minerva!
I think I can safely say that I don't do any of these things, except to the extent that my principle female characters are somewhat better looking than the men—but that's mostly because they (the women) are somewhat younger and more fit—the men all seem to be letting themselves go a bit. The straight ones, anyway. It's a source of some humor, actually. My principle female character pursues women, so I have a whole different set of stereotypes to avoid and/or nibble at—she's a former Army MP, but I gave her a really girly name, for one thing, and a fairly extensive collection of lingerie. As Lola says, "it pisses me off that people think I'm not allowed to have a fucking feminine side."
You're right about the first two things, Thomas--and I've been thinking about ways to do that. Jeff Skillings has a long-term partner, and I'd like to develop both of them a bit more in future books. Kotowski is interesting, too: I think I could get away with showing him in some more explicit scenes, although his age might be a bit problematic for some readers, as might his utter unwillingness to commit to anything more than a night or two of hedonism--I don't know. Also, of course, his relationship with Frank is really a kind of love story: a gay/straight friendship that over time has evolved into something like old-married-couple-hood, if that makes any sense. As for alienating readers: I doubt it--I don't think I've got a lot of homophobes reading the series; it's just a question of how far I can go in a way that makes sense with the existing storylines, Frank's more-or-less hardwired hetero-ness, and my own limitations as a straight writer. I thought I got pretty close in a comic way with the Treadway-in-drag scenes, though, no?
I love that list. Too true.
Agreed, great list. Did you notice how I made it all about me?
Umm, I meant Minerva's list. Sorry, Jon.
Hmm. Did you read the whole novel?
Yup. Quite right, but check the ending. :) A very clever thing, in my opinion.
I was in Sam's Club last week and picked up Promise Not to Tell by Jennifer McMahon. I read the blurb to the part where the killer cut the heart out of the victim and put it back on the shelf. If graphic violence garners you street cred, look for my mystery to be self-published about a year from now.
There's no point at all in anguishing over this topic. If people didn't like (and buy) serial killer novels, no one would publish them. Period. Instead of wringing our hands over this, looking for people to blame, we should all be celebrating the fact that we live in a society where such material can be written and sold.
I second that motion. People (demand) will buy what appeals to them. Authors (supply) will write what they are comfortable with. Where supply meets demand is the point of acceptability. It will change, and there will be outliers, but the market will move according to the whim of these two factors.

As a supplier, it's better to not worry about where that point is and just put my product out on the market. If you like what I write, buy it. If not, don't.


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