I finally cracked a reading slump thats bugged me for the last three or four books I’ve read. I got to the last 30 or so pages of them and just gave up reading because I was bored and didn’t care how they ended. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that all four of the books were “thrillers.”

I’ve never been a big thriller fan, they always seem so forced and manipulative, and for the most part, all of the good plot twists have already been used. But recent developments in the publishing business dictate that for a greater chance of success, a PI novel should be written in the framework of a thriller. So I got together a crop of PI novels written in the thriller mode and, well, you know the rezzzzzzzzzzzzzults.

The book that cracked it for me was Rob Kantner’s short story collection “Trouble is What I Do.” There’s not a single trick ending or dramatic plot twist and most of the stories don’t even have a murder in them. But the endings all had resonence. Even though I never had a big aha moment at the end, it never felt like the endings were tacked on at random.

So I’m off of thrillers now for a while and I’m even contemplating a short Chick-Lit bender. But one thriller I will be looking forward to is Jason Pinter’s “The Mark.” Pinter is an editor with Crown Books and sold his book to MIRA (Harlequin’s not just for chicks anymore). In addition to his witty commentary on his blog, the other reason I’m looking forward to his book is because he posted a list of the 50 things that won’t appear in his book. Some highlights include:

7) A male protagonist named Brick, Sarge, Mike, Stone, Johnson, Steel, Steele, Stiehl, Buck, Indiana, or Hardcastle.

11) A sidekick whose sole purpose is comic relief. This is akin to the author admitting, “My hero is boring as hell, so I’m going to create a character whose sole purpose is to receive Phil Hartman-esque slow burns.”

15) A narrator who doubles as a pop culture expert, and compares each crime or murder to a a movie, t.v. show or book (“The sadistic killer made Hannibal Lecter look like he was an extra on Teletubbies.”)

16) The hero’s best friend who happens to be a martial arts/demolitions expert, does all the dirty work, and seems to live in a world where nobody stops to ask them where they got the Chinese throwing stars and land mines.

Check out the rest and you’ll never read a thriller the same way again.

3 thoughts on “

  1. Good God! Guyot’s escaped from the attic again. Damn protein-rich fish heads keeping his strength up. And you promised you’d locked it, Quertermous!…I soooo want to write a series featuring Stone Hardcastle and his gigantism-afflicted half-Chinese sidekick, “Huge” Steele Wang.

  2. Oh, that was very good, John! Thank you.I was toying with the idea of writing a thriller. Well, a modified thriller that doesn’t follow the formula. The few thrillers I’ve read have all been very good actually, and frankly I would never ever touch chick lit. As for falling asleep before the end (long before the end), that is pretty standard with most mysteries for me.

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