Big hairy men
Still, I gotta wonder what it takes to distinquish yourself from the crowd if you are a male crime writer these days. How do you resist the urge to unleash upon the reading world yet one more ex-alchie divorced depressed shlub in wrinkled Dockers running from his past? Women crime writers don't seem to be bound by stale traditions and sexual stereotypes. But think about how hard it must be walk in Hammett's footprints. How tough it must be follow in the Busted Flush's wake. How damn difficult it must be leave a lasting scent where so many have lifted their legs before.
I'm thinking about this lately because I have read a couple guy books that have gone against the grain. I've really enjoyed these books, and not just because their authors' knuckles didn't drag on the ground when they wrote. No, it was more because they were willing to lay open a vein and deal with -- the horror! -- relationships. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of testosterone pumping through these tomes, but it's detoxed with a dose of sensitivity.
A while back I finished "The James Deans" by Reed Farrel Coleman. I hadn't met Coleman's Moe Prager before, so it was a pleasant surprise to discover this mensch of a man. Moe isn't afraid to talk about things like love, family and loyalty. Plus the guy owns a wine shop. What's not to love? Give me a nice Jewish boy who will babysit, make me laugh and bring home a wholesale Meursault any day. Next up was author Jim Fusilli, whose novel "Closing Time" I had picked up at a mystery conference. I had heard Fusilli was a "wordsmith, a writer's writer," which is why the book sat gathering dust on my bedstand for so long. Hearing someone called a wordsmith is kind of like hearing that he's great in the sack. Yeah right. Plus I had witnessed Fusilli in action on panels. Let's just say if he isn't a Scorpio, he should be. So as I got sucked deeper into "Closing Time" (seduced by the wordsmithing) I found myself really liking his protag Terry Orr. More to the point, liking the interplay between Terry and his daughter Bella. Good stuff, folks. Check these guys out. And join me in raising a glass to the menfolk. There's hope.