How much funny do you like in your crime fiction?
In other genres like fantasy and science fiction, there is a strict line. Some like the hard stuff and hate the funny stuff. In crime there tends to be a delineation between hardboiled and "cozy" but there are those that cross the line: Robert Crais's wisecracking Elvis Cole, for example:
That line has stuck with me since I read his fantastic debut, The Monkey's Raincoat, back in the early '90s. Elvis has taken on some very tough cases, but Crais always manages to inject some humor. Maybe not slapstick, but enough to leaven the brutality of the crimes with some laughter and keep us from throwing the book across the room and taking the lead pill.
Then there's just flat-out screwball crime fiction like Johnny Shaw, Rob Brunet, and Carl Hiaasen. You either love those or you don't. I'm also a big fan of Lawrence Block's Bernie Rhodenbarr "Burglar" books (and I'm probably the only fan who also enjoyed the movie Burglar with Whoopi Goldberg, but that's another story). Block doesn't eschew humor in his more hardboiled Matt Scudder books, but there's a very different tone.
The book I'm editing now is straddling the line. There's a death of course, and the subject matter of suburban hate groups and the rise of fascism in the U.S. before World War II isn't a light one. But it's not a story I wanted to tell in a gritty tone. The story of Nazis hiding in America has been told many times, and our government's complicity in harboring them for the space race and the Cold War is well documented (Google 'Operation Paperclip' if you like).
So where do you draw the line? This isn't Hogan's Heroes we're talking about. Just like you can kill any character but the dog, there are some jokes you can't tell. Punching up instead of down helps. Not going for the easy laugh helps, too.
So, do you enjoy hardboiled noir or funny stuff, or both? Can you enjoy a mix of the two? What are some favorites?