Maybe the rest of you have run into this. You got a friend, spends most of his or her time reading, I don’t know, Updike or David Foster Wallace or, God forbid, Jane Austen or some such. Not that there’ s anything WRONG with that. But they look a little sideways at this whole crime fiction deal, wondering why exactly you’re spending your reading hours wallowing in the dark gutters with hookers and hypos when the bright, sunlight uplands of literary Utopia are only an aisle or two away down at the local Barnes & Noble House of Books, CDs, Coffee, Candy, e-Readers and Made-in-China Gimcracks. And they especially wonder why you’re writing this shit – I mean really, how many throats can you slit, how many hearts can you blow out through how many exit wounds before it gets old. So you haul out the old don’t-knock-it-‘till-you’ve –tried it strategy and tell them to just read a book in the genre before they piss all over it like one of those mutant Dennis the Menace stickers you see in the back windows of pickups, the cowlick-headed kids peeing on the logos of whatever other truck brand the owner doesn’t like – you know, the ones that are right under the shadow of the gun rack and next to the I Heart Sara Palin bumper sticker. And they say OK – one book. I’ll try one book.
So which one? Do you go all old school and dust off the Dashiell Hammett? Pull a fuck-you-and-your-literary pretensions and slap them with Mike Hammer? Go kinda quasi-literary and lyrical and maybe send out James Lee Burke or John LeCarre (yeah, OK, LeCarre’s not crime fiction per se, but close enough for government work). Maybe you go modern classic and try Robert B. Parker – I mean they’ve seen him on TV, right? I’m sort of leaning toward Stephen Hunter’s Dirty White Boys at the moment – they’ll either get the first sentence or they won’t. Or what about Ross Thomas – fuckin’ LOVE Ross Thomas.
So I’m asking for nominations. Whaddya got?