Monday, October 29, 2007

A Rose by Any Other Name

I've been thinking about labels lately especially the labels we give stories. Crime writing for example could include so many different books or it could exclude many of my favorites.

Hickory Dickory Dock by Agatha Christie was my introduction to crime writing. I was ten and thought it had something to do with mice. Many though would say that Agatha Christie's novels are not crime writing. There is a crime for sure - usually murder - but yet it's so lightly done. Not really realistic, one could say. A cozy mystery I believe is the current label.

Then I moved onto Daphne Du Maurier's books. Now I can't quite say if there are actual criminal acts in her stories but they always feel like there is. All the way through Rebecca I was waiting for the crime to be revealed. Crime writing? Probably not, more likely it's labelled gothic or maybe historical romance.

Who came next? Dashiell Hammett. Now there can't be any dispute that he was a crime writer. In fact, one editorial review on Amazon states: Complete in one volume, the five books that created the modern American crime novel. Yet, he's also put in the box labelled hard-boiled.

And to my favorite living author, Dick Francis. There's always something unlawful in his stories. However, they're labelled mysteries or suspense not crime. And my novel Murder Makes Mischief even I don't call it crime writing. I describe it as airplane or vacation reading.

So what's this thing called Crime Writing? It's a label; it's a genre. Does it matter? Regardless of a book's label, the important thing is if you as a reader enjoy it or not. After all, a rose by any other name or a genre by any other name.....

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