Too Many Characters Spoil the Book?

Someone pointed out to me that my book has 30 characters and that could be a problem.  If it were War and Piece, that's one thing; but my novel will probably be about 300 pages.  Of course, many of these characters are cops, assorted thugs, etc. 

I've excised one character but can't see how I can get rid of more.  Any ideas about this?

There are exceptions: Cormac McCarthy's Suttree has a zillion characters but he somehow gets it to work.
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    Rule One: Don't have too many characters

    Rule Two: Only characters who come back should have names

    Rule Three: Don't make your characters names too similar

    Golden Rule: If you have a great book or great series, screw all the rules--You and your editors will know what's right, even if some of your writer-reader effetes turn their noses up at it.

    (See The Millennium Series, "The Girl ..."
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      Jack Bludis

      A new appreciation for WAR AND PEACE as a result of watching the eight-hour LIFETIME/BBC TV presentation of the work. I saw the Audrey Hepburn Henry Fonda three and one half hour dramatization of the work, and it did little for me but take up my time.

      This new, made-for-TV version must follow the book closely, because I see with the characters that each is distinct but some in more detail than others. I aslo see that there were far too many characters for me to keep in mind while I read the book.

      What turned me away from the book, I think, was the fact that Tolstoy used too many words to say what could be said simply. I particularly remember that in one of the first few pages of the book, that Tolstoy used half a page of description to say that Anna Pavlovna was a confidante (I believe of the Czarina) The book is buried someplace in my stacks and shelves even after I tried to read it for the most recent time last year when I reached all the way to page 14 after being stuck at page 8 for years.

      The main characters are deep, some deep in their shallowness. The ones that we see briefly, return in the memories of the main characters.

      I give the producers credit for choosing Paul Dano to play Pierre Bezukhov, whose depth of sensibility practically dripped from the TV screen, and who, in their version, live happily ever after.

      The next time I put my hands on the book, I will probably skim through to see how Tolstoy did it. Yeah, right, easy to understand the depth of genius.

      I found myself wondering how the descendants these character's, most of them aristocrats, made out in the revolution that accompanied world war one.

      My comments were intended for the "War and Peace" forum, but I suppose they work just as well here.

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        Anderson Ryle

        The Count of Monte Christo is over a thousand pages long, and has a large number of characters. However, one of the most incredible things about that story is how many times a character can rewoven into the story. Some of them serve three different functions, coming in early to play a small part, reintroduced for their main contribution, and then circling back for one last encore that has much more impact because of the reader's previous encounters with them. 

        Perhaps it would be worth analyzing your story for bit characters that can be used later on for a more significant role. This could both tighten the scope of the story and help your readers engage more. Plus it can always be fun to have a random woman that your protagonist meets in an alley turn out to be a crime boss's wife. It might not work for your story, but it is worth looking into.

        -Anderson Ryle