Everyone talks about the vampires and paranormal young adult books and whatnot. That's all fine and dandy, but those are trends outside of our favorite genre here on CrimeSpace.
I want to get back to talking about crime. So what are some of the trends going on right now? Not in marketing or formats, but the actual plot lines? What patterns are you seeing in what's new?
From my viewpoint, the leads are becoming more and more stereotypical. It's almost like casting for "The Real World" on MTV. The faces may change, but you know exactly what expressions they'll make.
Maybe that's because there are so many stereotypes built into crime fiction. But can we at least get beyond "the detective with a boatload of personal problems" thing? Or the black sedans following you in the rear view mirror? Or the hit man who just has to do one last job?
The reaction to this is to make something completely absurd out of the stereotype. Throw in a few funky quirks to stir the stereotype pot. Just look at the boatload of eccentric detectives on TV to get a feel for that.
None of these observations are necessarily bad. They're just my thoughts. What are yours?
I've been wondering. Just had a fan letter from a very nice person who offered to sell my books door-to-door. Why? Because they aren't selling well in the traditional way. I'm not writing the books most people want. No vampires, no serial killers, no hard-boiled, noir, or pulp.
I do have a flawed hero who is a very nice man, even though he can be irritating at times. I think the problem is that most people resist reading about Japan. The fear of the unknown?
I once bought a book from a guy selling them door-to-door. He wasn't a fan, it was a book he'd written and self-published (this was before e-books) and I just couldn't turn down an author at the door. It was non-fiction, the story of the trip he took by canoe from the Great Lakes to Newfoundland. Parts of it were very good.
Recently on his blog Peter Rozovsky said something about a book, "refreshingly" not trying to get inside the head of the seriel killer. I doubt that will be a trend, though.
most people resist reading about Japan. The fear of the unknown?
Or they resist reading about medieval Japan because that "historical" aspect just doesn't interest them enough. Most contemporary readers have become addicted (probably because of all these CSI type TV shows) to technology-driven forensic mysteries. Or maybe it's just an addiction to what seems NEW, whether it's technology or a story.
Even though it may seem to be a contradiction, these types of stories & shows, their "newness" notwithstanding, are actually "familiar." We are familiar with "new" because it is in our faces all the time. Your computer, your iphone, your shoes, your car cannot be new enough. In fact, new is safe---it's status quo. Avoiding becoming---god forbid---"obsolete" or just plain "old fashioned." So with regards to a mystery set in ancient Japan---maybe it's more banal than a fear of the unknown: a lack of interest in what is (seemingly) far removed in time. (Although lots of people love sci fi, and if that's not far removed in time----but of course, it's the FUTURE, not the past, so it doesn't have to seem "real.") It isn't HISTORY yet.
Perhaps many people also fail to see that a "medieval" detective can be a modern man---a man of his own time, which is what modern (or contemporary) means. Those early PI novels, set in the 40s, sometimes start to seem like historical fiction too---and they're not even a century "old" yet. But some of the attitudes, even the language---now considered "classical" in the genre---are dated.
I've not read much "new" mystery fiction - as in published in the last couple of years. However, there is one trend that grates on me, yet I keep reading.
Spenser and Hawk. Myron and Winn. Elvis and Pike. The brutal but "good" sidekick works for the Parker/Coben/Crais series, but I wonder if they aren't becoming too routine for mysteries?
That said, I LOVE all three of those pairings.
I wonder if the trend is not sidekicks, but rather sidekicks who are described as exceptionally deadly.
Watson was a great sidekick, but he certainly wasn't Winn/Pike/Hawk.
Something I just caught myself doing while digging through Amazon. If a book's description includes just about any description of a character's physical appearance, such as "a good-looking doctor" or "sexy spy," I'm out of there.
That aside, it astonished me how few mysteries struck me as really interesting. I got this jaded, yeah-been-there-read-that feeling with most of them, including the World War II mysteries and thrillers that usually fascinate me. Is it me? Is it the field?