The State of the Crime Novel ca. 2009

Jason Pinter, as part of his new gig as a columnist for the Huffington Post’s recently launched books section, gathered together an excellent group of crime fiction critics, observers and prognosticators to consider where the genre is at and where things are headed. Here’s a sampling from the round-table featuring Patrick Anderson, Jon Jordan, Oline Cogdill, Kate Stine, David Montgomery and yours truly:

What do you feel is your individual mission statement when it comes to covering crime novels?

Anderson: To steer intelligent readers toward good crime fiction and away from bad crime fiction.

Cogdill: I want to cover the crime novel/mystery

genre to showcase new books that deserve an audience. To show what is

the best and brightest of our times. I don’t have a problem giving a

book a negative review and in fact do it all the time, but I would

rather guide the reader to what they should be reading. In a way, it is

consumerism. I think the state of the mystery genre is the strongest it

has ever been. I think the stories are stronger than ever, characters

more vivid and plots more involved. And that is both in hardback and

paperback. Some very strong novels are paperback originals.

Jordan: With Crimespree we hope to turn

people on to some books and authors they might not have heard about and

give them some insight into authors they might not otherwise get.

Montgomery: I try to highlight the best of the

genre, whether by popular authors or unknowns, and help readers to gain

a greater understanding and appreciation of crime fiction. My goal is

to cover the genre in both a serious and entertaining way, to give the

great books and authors the recognition they deserve, but also to

emphasize the pleasure to be had by reading crime novels. I also take a

particular pleasure from discovering new writers and helping to bring

their work to a larger audience.

Stine: My mission as an editor is to hire expert writers and reviewers and make sure that Mystery Scene readers get excellent critical coverage of the entire crime and mystery genre.

Weinman: Ideally, to talk about books I love that

others will love as well. But when it’s a book I don’t love, then I

want to tell the truth in an honest but informed way, pointing out what

works, what doesn’t, or why I may not like it but others might.

But I’d strongly urge reading the whole thing and perhaps coming up with your own answers, predictions and thoughts – the comments box is wide open…