Scott D. Parker
A generation and a half ago, a little old lady looked at a hamburger and asked, "Where's the beef?" In 2011, I'm looking around at some of the things I've been reading and asking myself where's the mystery?
Lately, crime fiction comics have been my fiction of choice. Part of the reason is that I'm genuinely interested in the art form. The other part is, well, soon to be announced. What has struck me is--at least in some of the titles I've chosen (Gotham Central, Hunter, Coward (Criminal), and Incognito)--there is a distinct lack of mystery involved. Like a great deal of *crime* fiction, those stories deal with the lowlifes and criminals, their way of life, and the choices that they make. It's fun reading, to be sure, but it has brought up a question: is there a line between mystery fiction and crime fiction?
Here's how I tend to generalize the two. Mystery fiction is trying to solve a crime, usually murder, and figure out the killer. While there are undoubtedly titles out there that use criminals as the protagonists, this style of storytelling tends to focus on the good guys, the ones trying to answer the question of whodunit?
Crime fiction seems to be about criminals or ordinary people caught up in events beyond their control. Where mystery fiction ends when the killer is identified, that's often the place where crime fiction starts. Mystery can be an aspect of crime fiction, but not always. For example, a heist film has little mystery to it other than to show how the robbers pull off the deed (or not).
Perhaps I've not read broadly enough, or perhaps I'm looking for different things nowadays. I'm not sure. But it just seems that there is a chasm in the middle of this genre we call home that separates us. I wonder why that is?
TV Show of the Week: Body of Proof
The good: Dana Delany's Megan Hunt is a bit like Sherlock Holmes, so far ahead of others that she appears superhuman. Oh, and there are dumb cops. Odd to see Sonja Sohn (The Wire) on network TV. Delany has some good chops that are best shown when her character actually has quiet moments. The bad: For someone who is seemingly surrounded by idiots and still pines for her old job, Delany's character seems to flit through the episode without much care. Perhaps that's the way we are shown she has no friends. I enjoyed the pilot and will continue watching. Anyone else?