Mysteries versus crime novels
Following up on last night's post Jeff Pierce wrote:
I guess I don't understand the difference between crime fiction and mysteries. Are mysteries defined by the fact that the reader doesn't know who did it, while readers of crime fiction do?
Ed here: I guess my so-called friend had two parts to his agenda. One was to tell me without telling me that he thought that I wrote trash. And two that he felt that crime novels were superior because they were "serious." He mentioned George V. Higgins as his exemplar.
To me Higgins was brilliant--none better--for four or five books but then he started taking his reviews seriously and gave up telling stories. His last books may have been "serious" but they were boring as hell. I believe he even wrote a piece disdaining "plot."
I further guess what he was talking about were the books his group finds "acceptable." Crime fiction is just as trendy as any other kind of fiction. You show your worth by waving a copy of a crime novel that the hoitiest and toitiest of Acceptable Critics have praised. I'm not sure that he understood that crime fiction--the street fiction popular today--can also contain a mystery. Look at Walter Mosley's novels about LA in the Fifties.
So I'm assuming here that he just misspoke and was confused about mystery vs. crime. He apparently sees all mysteries as the sort lending libraries dispensed in the Twenties, Thirties and Forties. You now, the novels no major publisher would touch. He wants books that are taken more seriously than most mysteries.
As I said last night you read what gives you pleasure.
And I still have a shelf-full of Rex Stouts and A.A. Fairs so there.