Title

'Dark' VS 'Cosy'

Christopher Fowler
Publishing is a bipolar industry. Its subjects are cute or bleak, its publicity blitzes star-driven and hyped-to-death or lost and invisible. I try not to judge books by their covers but you can often discern entire plots from the jacket. I know there are sections of the market not aimed at me, like the book about singing crawdads, whatever they are, which looks like 'The Bridges of Madison County', and violent cop thrillers where women are still, at this late stage, kidnapped and tortured. Over the years I've gone out of my way to keep a balance in the murder/mayhem stakes but it's not easy. I've been responsible for some spectacularly gory murders (literary only, not practice runs) over the years but they always occur in a slightly fantastical atmosphere that reduces any unpleasantness. On the rare occasions I let rip, say in'Hot Water', I upset some readers. My crime was not gore - which does not interest me - but cruelty.  But you can't just be cosy either. Christie wasn't - there's a hard-edged darkness under many of her Poirot novels. One could make the plot an almost abstract exercise in problem-solving (some Japanese authors do this, producing the equivalent of algebraic equations). Today's papers (why do we still call them that when everyone reads online?) are full of complaints about violence against women in crime novels, something I've been angry about for years. Although, of course, the single most shockingly violent crime writer was Mo Hayder. In the other corner at the moment, it's Agatha-praising/bashing time again, with presenter Lucy Worseley acting as if she's only just heard of Christie. To get to the root of the old trout's appeal you'll need to pick up a copy of 'Word Monkey' when it's published, as I tackle the subject in my trawls through books, death and related subjects. Annoyingly the volume will most likely be published posthumously, which at least means I won't care about the reviews. The American novelist Don Winslow reckons that as long as we know it’s a game, play by its rules and follow its conventions we're on safe ground, but he writes about the very real brutality of drug cartels (and does it brilliantly). He involves his readers in a world of hard-edged graphic violence without winner or losers. Is he writing for a different audience, one that prefers news-headline crime to toffs in grand houses? So, today's question is this, fellow writers of popular fiction. Is the answer simply to stay in the middle of the road, produce fan service and not upset anyone? 
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Don Winslow

Comments

Joel (not verified) Thu, 01/09/2022 - 18:28

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

i think once a consumer (of books, music, movies etc) accepts that not everything is for them. not everything has to meet with their approval or follow their moral/immoral guidelines. it's a matter of finding what you like, sticking with it, and not trying to stifle what you approve of or like.

Joel (not verified) Thu, 01/09/2022 - 18:31

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

good grief...i may have had an out of body experience when typing the first comment...it should has said

i think consumers (of books, music, movies etc) have to accept that not everything is for them. not everything has to meet with their approval or follow their moral/immoral guidelines. it’s a matter of finding what you like, sticking with it. not trying to stifle what you don't approve of or like.

there, i think that makes more sense...lol

Roger (not verified) Thu, 01/09/2022 - 20:54

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

You couldn't find better evidence that "publishing is a bipolar industry" than the cover you show - selling a book by Eric Ambler with almost naked girls, guns and praise from Graham Greene.
Multipolar even!

Stu-I-Am (not verified) Thu, 01/09/2022 - 21:05

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

The somewhat unnerving thing about the persistence of femicide in crime novels is that crime writing is dominated by female authors. Granted, the body count is usually not on par with their male counterparts and the murders often not as dramatic. I'm generalising here, of course, but the female bump offs tend to be chillingly casual, and, I guess I would call them, more 'intimate' --- a bit more psychologically acute. Even back in the golden age of detective fiction, when elaborate puzzles were emphasised in crime novels, the Sayers and Christie evildoers and their motivations, for example, tended to be (IMHO) more believable and come to think of it, nastier, than those of many of their male compeers. And speaking of Christie, what I think gives her staying power is that very 'believability.' Certainly what you're asked to 'believe' is a time and dramatis personae long gone, but which, I suggest, do have the ring of authenticity in her hands. And from what I understand about Christie, she pretty much wrote about a world she knew, with the appropriate literary adjustments, of course.

I think readers will always seek out an 'authentic' voice --- not necessarily one based on an author's personal experience or history, as in Christie's case --- but one founded on knowledge, an innate understanding and undoubtedly, the willingness to go far enough to encourage and support the necessary suspension of disbelief. There has to be a true collaboration between the author and reader.

Helen+Martin (not verified) Thu, 01/09/2022 - 21:32

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

There, Stu, I think you've got it and there's a reason for it. It being the presence of female murderers and victims in books by female authors. If there is a general difference between female minds and male ones (and I'm not suggesting a rule, only a tendency) then who is going to be able to get into the female mind better - a man or a woman? If I were to sit down and call up the person I dislike the most and then think how to dispose of him/her I would use all of the most female parts of my mind . My face would probably be somewhat off putting while I was thinking this through, too.
I particularly liked the bit about seeking out an authentic voice, because that is what I look for in an author, the feeling that the writer has an understanding of the characters and their situations.

Stu-I-Am (not verified) Fri, 02/09/2022 - 00:07

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

@Helen+Martin Helen --- You raise an interesting point. Upwards of something like 80% of fiction readers are estimated to be women ('When women stop reading, the novel will be dead,' according to author Ian McEwan) --- and a like percentage is estimated to make up the bulk of the market for crime novels and psychological thrillers. What's more, studies tell us women prefer to read books by women. This has all led to more male authors taking on gender-neutral pseudonyms --- which raises the question, (at least for me), whether women can tell if a ram in ewe's clothing has written a book. Is there a discernible difference in general, even in the hands of a particularly savvy male author --- or does it perhaps depend on the genre, if then ?

Helen+Martin (not verified) Fri, 02/09/2022 - 06:25

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I don't think I'm the right person to ask. There is a sort of warm comfortable book that seems to ooze femaleness and as far as I can tell I've never read one that was written by a man - but, hey! prove me wrong. My husband has been reading Clive Cussler novels for some time and I have read a couple. Surprisingly, they don't necessarily scream macho man! on every page. These days they are mostly written by someone else so who knows for sure? I hand him whatever I'm reading and while it's like pulling teeth to get an analysis out of him he has at least mostly liked what I've given him. I just finished Clare Pooley's "Iona Iverson's Rules for Commuting" and that felt to me like a woman's book so I hesitated to hand it over. He didn't chuck it but I don't know yet what he thought. He's into Book 5 of Andrew Taylor's Restoration series . That has two narrators, a 3rd person and one character that tells his own sections. That series isn't either male or female to me, just a story being told. I think that is my preference, narration not overly coloured by .... I'm stopped here because I don't know what word I want: it's not emotionalism, nor is it psychological analysis.
Here is some of it: when I read Chris I usually feel relaxed and trusting because I feel that the author is a decent person, someone who cares about people in general. When we get untrustworthy or vicious people (Mr. Fox for example) we don't go into their psyches or share their feelings too much. That last chapter of Hot Water is atypical but even there the character is allowed to drift away even though we are left very uncomfortable.
I don't think there's much here to answer your question, Stu. I really don't think there are books that no woman /man could have written. Books come out of minds and most minds are not totally one thing or another. Besides, what is called feminism or masculinism is just a label we've decided to put on the genders. IMHO

Hazel Jackson (not verified) Fri, 02/09/2022 - 10:48

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I avoid any book where the plot summary mentions the abduction or murder of a child.

Joan (not verified) Fri, 02/09/2022 - 12:45

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

If I was looking for a romance book, I probably wouldn’t pick up a male author. If it was fiction, to me it wouldn’t matter, or mystery which I probably read more of. In fact I was hardly even aware that most of the popular mysteries are penned by women. I definitely think that romantic ideal is viewed differently by men, in fact emotionally we are wired quite differently. I know I am on shakey ground here, but perhaps going by personal experience I found my husband often had no idea that I was upset by something, and genuinely surprised when I told him.

Brooke (not verified) Fri, 02/09/2022 - 13:35

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

"..violence against women in crime novels, something I’ve been angry about for years." Mr. Fowler, I was about to call you out on this. Fortunately you caught yourself by acknowledging Mo Hayder for whom you've expressed admiration.

I wanted to invite Ms. Hayder, or one of her ilk, to speak to our group, which supports shelters and counseling for abused women. I envisioned including her in a discussion with psychologists/psychiatrists who are experts in dealing with victims of abuse and in prosecuting their abusers. I believe there is a fundamental pathology underlying the "Church of Dead Women" writing by female authors that bears open examination, not accolades. Fortunately, wise heads prevailed before I could get on my broomstick.

Brooke (not verified) Fri, 02/09/2022 - 13:59

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

" ...almost abstract exercise in problem-solving (some Japanese authors do this, producing the equivalent of algebraic equations)." Regarding Japanese authors, I have found the abstract exercise employed by authors such as Higashino for their detectives (in this case Detective Galileo) is always in contrast to and reinforcing the emotional, almost evil, turmoil underlying the plot. I found The Devotion of Suspect X unnerving. It's as though these authors are exploring human situations that follow immutable dynamics like the surface tension of water, Simiiar to Watson's Apology.
Christie can't do this; she can't work with characters, only caricatures.

Paul C (not verified) Fri, 02/09/2022 - 15:26

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Talking of Eric Ambler, I like the title of his autobiography - 'Here Lies Eric Ambler'

The two best titles I know were never used : 'The Hindsight Saga' which S J Perelman failed to complete and Preston Sturges was going to call the story of his life 'The Events Leading Up To My Death'

Brooke (not verified) Fri, 02/09/2022 - 16:12

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Is the Agatha Christie book "Marple?"

Stu-I-Am (not verified) Fri, 02/09/2022 - 16:33

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

@Brooke Brooke --- Yes, it's called 'Marple:Twelve New Mysteries ' and is supposed to be released 13 Sept. The stories and authors are:

EVIL IN SMALL PLACES by Lucy Foley
THE SECOND MURDER AT THE VICARAGE by Val McDermid
MISS MARPLE TAKES MANHATTAN by Alyssa Cole
THE UNRAVELLING by Natalie Haynes
MISS MARPLE’S CHRISTMAS by Ruth Ware
THE OPEN MIND by Naomi Alderman
THE JADE EMPRESS by Jean Kwok
A DEADLY WEDDING DAY by Dreda Say Mitchel
MURDER AT THE VILLA ROSA by Elly Griffiths
THE MURDERING SORT by Karen M. McManus
THE MYSTERY OF THE ACID SOIL by Kate Mosse
THE DISAPPEARANCE by Leigh Bardugo

Christopher Fowler Fri, 02/09/2022 - 16:34

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Brooke - As you probably know, Mo Hayder died a short while ago. Of the few dinners I had with her she did not strike me as a happy person and had (at least with me) a very bleak outlook. Having said that, she was an astounding researcher, had a sharp, clear mind and wrote the most frightening crime novels in the world.

Peter T (not verified) Fri, 02/09/2022 - 16:50

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

In as much as statistics can be believed since everyone, especially governments, categorise to put themselves in the best possible light, the ratio of male to female murder victims is a little over two to one in most of the significant countries of the 'civilized' world. Japan is an exception showing outstanding gender equality by murdering women at around the same rate as men. Of course, these are real murders, most of which would fail dismally as fiction.

Cary Watson (not verified) Fri, 02/09/2022 - 17:01

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I'm not a fan of detailed, lip-smacking descriptions of dead bodies, either when they're found by cops or when they end up on a autopsy table. A fair number of crime writers seem to go in for this kind of thing (two French writers come to mind, Bussi and Thilliez), and this post-mortem sadism always feels exploitive and gratuitous. My own crime novel, The Skeleton Palms, has a high body count (too high, maybe), but I find it more affecting to describe the pathetic, abandoned aspect of the dead. My protagonist finds a body that's been shot through the eye and observes, "He wore a yellow and black monocle of wasps that were feeding at the edge of the wound." And I left it at that.

BarbaraBoucke (not verified) Fri, 02/09/2022 - 17:12

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Brooke - Hopefully you will see this. Thank you for "The Conjure-Man Dies". I am about 3/4ths of the way along and have enjoyed every minute I spend reading it. I wish Rudolph Fisher would have had a longer life, because I wonder if he would have written other mysteries. I have stepped into a place I'm not familiar with and found the descriptions, the relationships, the humor.....both enlightening and interesting. Thank you again.

Stu-I-Am (not verified) Fri, 02/09/2022 - 17:32

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

@Brooke Brooke -- Yes, it's called 'Marple: Twelve New Mysteries' and will be released on 13 Sept.

Stu-I-Am (not verified) Fri, 02/09/2022 - 17:40

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

@Brooke Brooke -- Yes -- it's called 'Marple: Twelve New Mysteries', due out 13 Sept.

Stu-I-Am (not verified) Fri, 02/09/2022 - 18:34

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

@Brooke Brooke -- Yes. it's called 'Marple: Twelve New Mysteries' and is due out in the middle of September. The contributors are:

Naomi Alderman
Leigh Bardugo
Alyssa Cole
Lucy Foley
Elly Griffiths
Natalie Haynes
Jean Kwok
Val McDermid
Karen M. McManus
Dreda Say Mitchell
Kate Mosse
Ruth Ware

Brooke (not verified) Fri, 02/09/2022 - 18:44

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Barbara-- thank you. Always happy to introduce other readers to interesting works. Fisher's short stories are available as is his novel, Walls of Jericho, which is supposed to be a real hoot if you have a very dark sense of humour.
Perhaps one day, an enterprising writer will explore the evolution of how Harlem is portrayed by fiction writers of color. Comparing Fisher, Himes (Cotton Comes to Harlem) and Whitehead (Harlem Shuffle) would be interesting.
Happy reading.

Brooke (not verified) Fri, 02/09/2022 - 19:01

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Mr. Fowler--yes, I did know about Hayder's illness and death. I can well imagine that she was not one of the world's fortunate happy people. I can't imagine having her as company over a meal. Blessed are the poor in spirit...

BTW, did you go to the "In the Black Fantastic" exhibit (Southbank Centre)? Colorful, creative, thought provoking...

BarbaraBoucke (not verified) Fri, 02/09/2022 - 20:12

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Brooke - You are welcome. Thank you for the mention of Walls of Jericho. Have you read or do you know anything about Hagar's Daughter by Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins? The serialized story is available - reprinted as the novel it actually is.

Stu-I-Am (not verified) Fri, 02/09/2022 - 20:49

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

@Brooke Brooke --- Yes, it's called 'Marple: Twelve New Mysteries' and is due out middle of Sept.

Brooke (not verified) Fri, 02/09/2022 - 20:57

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Barbara - I have not read Hagar's Daughter but I have read scholarly reviews which suggest it's worth exploring. However, as I now rarely read fiction, I decided to give it a pass.
Hagar is a strong symbol, metaphor, image in black culture, especially southern black culture. Toni Morrison has a Hagar character in her portrait of a family, Song of Solomon. Morrison may be pointing back to Hopkins' work as her Hagar's daughter also struggles with questions of identity, autonomy and will.
If you read Hopkin's work, please let me know what you think of it.

Jan (not verified) Fri, 02/09/2022 - 21:23

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

for me the most distressing part of this theme of violence against women where some random victim is captured by some mysterious murderer who subjects his captive to humiliation, rape, violence or even torture before working up to his eventual goal of murder is that it's actually just a very twisted version of reality. Like some horrible distorting mirror held up to reveal some sort of truth.

In grim reality (Trust me ) you don't need no genius detectives to solve these crimes. Because it's the spouse, partner, boyfriend of some non randomly selected victim who goes through the awful events as described above.

With no clearly definitive endings to these non detective (more horror) stories these victims willingly return to their abusers and go willingly back into their bad relationships or weirdly and absurdly enough form a similarly abusive relationship with another partner. Perhaps that's the real and biggest mystery of the lot.

Jan (not verified) Fri, 02/09/2022 - 21:25

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

That were a bit serious.
I'm off on me holidays tomorrow hope all's well Mr. F. Jan x

snowy (not verified) Fri, 02/09/2022 - 23:09

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Oh, that's what Lucy Worsley has been up-to after doing 'Lady Killers' for the Beeb. An odd programme, the pre-publicity described it as an "investigation of the crimes of Victorian women, from a contemporary, feminist perspective".

The contemporary, feminist perspective turned out to be: find a famous female murderer, do a quick resume of their greatest hits and then convene an all-female panel of academics to explain how their actions were all the fault of men.

This spectacular bit of "demanding to both have cake and the right to devour it" , perversely ends up arguing that women have no agency, are incapable of individual action, incapable of being cunning, devious, evil and should be viewed as perfect saints.

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Aggie's 'disappearance', [which is apparently discussed in Prof Worsley's book about Christie], was never that mysterious, a financially independent woman, with a mind for creating mysteries, discovers her husband has been playing away and decides to take a very calculated revenge.

A very short read through the national and local papers of the period will reveal just how viciously husbands whose wives disappeared in mysterious circumstances, were hounded by the law, the press and the public.

[It backfired spectacularly in the end, nobody believed her story and put it down to a publicity stunt].

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The naffer than naff book covers were a trend started by publishers, in a crowded market full of entirely interchangeable pot-boilers anything that would shift a copy was deemed fair game. [See Alan Coren's comments about his book 'Golfing for Cats'].

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The perceived preponderance of female victims, [the headlines this receives is largely a political construct], is a sign that authors are running out of new ideas.

Traditionally a book needs some form of 'outrage', right at the start just to kick things into action, in the 1920s there were many societal norms that could be transgressed to create such effect: kill anyone from any of: rich, upper class, privileged, noble, pretty, famous or an innocent, job done.

But now almost none of these raise any eyebrows, only the lowest common denominator/last resort survives: young vulnerable female.

[This is hugely amplified by every killer having to be a serial type, so one death is not enough and once the pattern has been set in chapter one, it has to repeat ad-nauseam, so the body-count just multiplies.]

snowy (not verified) Fri, 02/09/2022 - 23:19

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Brooke if you haven't tracked it down: Agatha Christie: A Very Elusive Woman by Lucy Worsley published by Hodder &amp; Stoughton. [Only in hardback at the moment, the paperback will come out next year].

BarbaraBoucke (not verified) Fri, 02/09/2022 - 23:57

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Will do, Brooke. I'm still chuckling over the escapades of Bubber Brown.

Stu-I-Am (not verified) Sat, 03/09/2022 - 03:44

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Recently came across an extended essay from the mid-'40s from Raymond Chandler, who, as you no doubt know, was one of the alpha males of the 'hardboiled' or 'noir' detective fiction pride. Never one to mince words about writing, (he became an overnight expert in his 50s), in it he opines that the skills that contribute to artful writing and those that create a clever mystery are incompatible. 'The fellow who can write you a vivid and colorful prose simply won’t be bothered with the coolie labor of breaking down unbreakable alibis,” he writes. Not so surprising from the guy whose convoluted plots leave more loose ends than an unraveling jumper. If you haven't already read it, start 'The Big Sleep,' take a paracetamol and get back to me in the morning. But then again, he was first and foremost a stylist, pointing out ,'very likely Agatha Christie and Rex Stout write better mysteries, but their words don’t get up and walk. Mine do.' So the question is, can 'walking words' trump a weak mystery ?

Stu-I-Am (not verified) Sat, 03/09/2022 - 03:53

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Recently came across an extended essay from the mid-'40s from Raymond Chandler, who, as you no doubt know, was one of the alpha males of the 'hardboiled' or 'noir' detective fiction pride. Never one to mince words about writing, (he became an overnight expert in his 50s), in it he opines that the skills that contribute to artful writing and those that create a clever mystery are incompatible. 'The fellow who can write you a vivid and colorful prose simply won’t be bothered with the coolie labor of breaking down unbreakable alibis,” he writes. Not so surprising from the guy whose convoluted plots leave more loose ends than an unraveling jumper. If you haven't already read it, start 'The Big Sleep,' take a paracetamol and get back to me in the morning. But then again, he was first and foremost a stylist, pointing out , 'very likely Agatha Christie and Rex Stout write better mysteries, but their words don’t get up and walk. Mine do.' So the question is, can 'walking words' trump a weak mystery ?

Helen+Martin (not verified) Sat, 03/09/2022 - 05:51

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

It seems to have taken forever to convince our police that all deaths are equal and all missing people are worthy of a search. We had a real serial killer who killed mostly prostitutes who were also First Nations. Signs saying, "someone's sister, mother, aunt, daughter, friend is dead and don't you care?" appeared and police were faced with accusations of dereliction of duty. It is beginning to sink in but slowly. I don't know what it will take but a missing 14 year old's body was found in an abandoned apartment along with another body. We're still dealing with children in foster care being abused. I'm sure my son still believes I didn't care much about him, but we all do our best. It's when children are handed over to someone else to raise that problems arise, especially as long as accepted society believes that what happens in a family is private. The more inclusive a community is the safer the children.

Stu-I-Am (not verified) Sat, 03/09/2022 - 12:54

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Recently came across an extended essay from the mid-'40s from Raymond Chandler, who, as you no doubt know, was one of the alpha males of the 'hardboiled' or 'noir' detective fiction pride. Never one to mince words about writing, (once he became an overnight expert in his 50s), in it he opines that the skills that contribute to artful writing and those that create a clever mystery are incompatible. 'The fellow who can write you a vivid and colorful prose simply won’t be bothered with the coolie labor of breaking down unbreakable alibis,” he writes. Not so surprising from the guy whose convoluted plots leave more loose ends than an unraveling jumper. If you haven't already read it, start 'The Big Sleep,' take a paracetamol and get back to me in the morning. But then again, he was first and foremost a stylist, pointing out , 'very likely Agatha Christie and Rex Stout write better mysteries, but their words don’t get up and walk. Mine do.' So the question is, can 'walking words' trump a weak mystery ?

Brooke (not verified) Sat, 03/09/2022 - 14:13

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Snowy, nice post! I posted something simiiiar but it didn't go through. But you are much more to the point and succinct.
I did wonder what Worsley was playing at with the Lady Killers program. I was turned off by the "us poor women" approach and only watched one episode.

Thanks for the tip about the Worsley's Christie biography, but I'll pass. Too much of a bad thing.

Brooke (not verified) Sat, 03/09/2022 - 14:20

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

To Helen's points, "when children are handed over to someone else to raise that problems arise, what happens in a family is private." I had a friend who was a senior judge in juvenile court and I attended a couple of sessions. Wish I hadn't. Unfortunately, often the only option is to remove the child from the family. Families can do terrible things to children, as can institutions.

Cornelia Appleyard (not verified) Sat, 03/09/2022 - 15:05

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

‘Families can do terrible things to children, as can institutions.’
Very true, Brooke.

Anna-Maria Covich (not verified) Sun, 04/09/2022 - 09:30

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I think anyone catering to their audience's expectations is doing themselves and their audience a disservice. I hate this current media trend of making everything fan service.
I'm conflicted about femmicide in fiction. I'm not comfortable with how lazily it is often done, and even more uncomfortable with the underlying attitudes it often exposes of both reader and author (or maybe I'm reading too much into a genre due to my own personal history with one such author), but I a do think fiction has the power to educate audiences about the issues others have already raised here. The whole "random victim, chosen, stalked, tortured etc" trope is generally a pretty lazy way of writing. Fictional victims chosen because of their social invisibility (e.g. sex workers, indigenous people, black people), and intimate partners, have a chance of educating readers about real issues that hurt real people.

Wayne Mook (not verified) Sun, 11/09/2022 - 03:48

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I wish all people were treated the same Helen, but it is better than when I was a kid. Still a ways to go. At least people being put into care due to societies view of them and their parent/s (social, ethnicity and marital status) has lessened and which increases the likelihood of when there is abuse and a child needs protecting of help being given.

In terms of violence and murder young males especially in lower classes are the main targets especially young, black males, and they don't seem to be investigated to the same level of other murders and have a lot less media attention. Although again it's not as bad as it was, the gang violence of the past in major UK cities would never be ignored as it was in the past.

For some reason in fiction this doesn't seem to be what sells or is read. I know there are some writers writing about gangs, a lot less in the UK than the US it has to be said. The final female is also a poor cliché in crime and horror, it's good to see it is being inverted, still there are many examples. I guess by making a victim female they are playing to the female audience in a perverse way.

As to cozy crime, many of the deaths can be quite gruesome, Christie was fairly graphic especially for the time when the 1st books came out. Midsommer Murders is the main UK TV cozy crime programme and at times it's a real bloodbath and can be quite gruesome, there is one episode when no one dies and that was a shock.

One of the problems for the lack of male reading is the lack of books for boys between the age of about 10 to 16 (this was true even when I was young, I can remember searching the shelves for suitable books at 13, failing, and then having to bite the bullet and go into the adult section for anything SF, crime or god forbid horror.) In the UK there is maybe Dr Who and Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider series, I know John Grisham has a series but I've not seen them in the UK. I went with my 10 year old daughter to get books and there was very few books for that male age group. I did a search and by halfway down the search page it was general books for the age group and most of these were not aimed at this group. Boys don't read so books are not written for them, it's a sad viscous circle.

Helen I saw There Are No Fakes, a documentary about a Norval Morrisseau painting that was about part of a court case about fakes which then lead down a rabbit hole of abuse of Indigenous population, especially young males, how fear and prejudice lead to these terrible things. Glad to hear it is getting better.

By the way has anyone else seen the World Chase Tag Championships? A form of urban running indoors to be kind or adult ticky-it to be unkind. Kabaddi with obstacles I guess is another way to describe it.

Wayne.