How important is realism in crime novels?

Gar Anthony Haywood addresses this very question after reading James Crumley’s The Last Good Kiss for the first time and coming away with mixed feelings.

The whole thing is an interesting read and the conversation continues in the comments too.

What bothers me is, I can’t help but see the novel as a missed opportunity for Crumley, who was clearly a writer of great power. More than one reviewer over the years has called THE LAST GOOD KISS nothing less than “the best private eye novel ever written,” but I think that’s merely what it could have been, had Crumley shown a greater regard — or any regard, really — for realism. And plots that do more than circle back upon themselves, over and over again. Whatever the best private eye novel ever written really is — and that’s a debate for another day — I have to believe it’s a much deeper read than THE LAST GOOD KISS, and that its author did a better job of balancing pathos with the absurd.

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Brian Lindenmuth

Brian is the non-fiction editor of Spinetingler magazine and one of the fiction editors of Snubnose Press. In addition to Spinetingler his work has appeared in Crimespree magazine and at BSC Review, Galleycat and the Mulholland Books website. He also heads the Spinetingler Award committee.

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About Brian Lindenmuth

Brian is the non-fiction editor of Spinetingler magazine and one of the fiction editors of Snubnose Press. In addition to Spinetingler his work has appeared in Crimespree magazine and at BSC Review, Galleycat and the Mulholland Books website. He also heads the Spinetingler Award committee.

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