A generation ago, crime writing was a minority taste, for many a puritan pleasure, not always admitted to in public; reading mysteries was a sabbatical for the serious-minded. The blockbusters of the ’60s and ’70s, for example, the novels of Irving Stone, Harold Robbins, John O’Hara, Jacqueline Susann and Herman Wouk, preferred to deal with sex, movie stars, religion and exotic foreign places rather than crime. Robert Crichton, Mary Renault, James Clavell were among those who followed and still no big time crime. Best-seller lists were subjugated by literary writers and masters of sex and junk.That was then, Blundell reminds us. These days, it’s a whole new deal.
Fine crime writers are no longer being dismissed as merely genre hacks but it’s been a bloody transformation as categories of the mystery novel continue to fragment; there is mayhem in the mainstream. For many publishers, crime writing is now like a form of natural selection--throw out enough mutations and you know that some will get saved and endure. The reading public is fickle; what it loves today it may well ignore tomorrow.Blundell has a lot more to say on this matter here.