Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Crime and the Western

I recently discovered a site called CrimeReads. I've enjoyed it and believe anyone who reads crime/detective/mystery novels would too. Today, from "Where The Western Meets Crime Fiction":
Crime novels. Westerns. Most of us think of these two genres as grossly different: one tends to feature detectives-types solving mysterious felonies, while the other prefers to focus on rough-riding cowboys behaving badly. ....

Both are about the triumph of good over evil. Early in a novel of either genre, we will see our protagonist encounter an injustice, usually the victim of crime (who may or may not still be breathing). Both novels will end when the scales of justice have finally been righted; the perpetrators of evil have met their due punishment. In a crime novel, justice usually comes in the form of a court of law. In the western, justice tends to be delivered by a bullet through the heart.

Both genres are propelled by strong-willed protagonists who rub the establishment the wrong way. The crime novel’s detective will often push the boundaries of investigative practices, even after her boss threatens her job. The western’s protagonist is usually someone with little faith in the legal system to begin with; during the quest for justice, the law usually levels its sights on our hero. ....
The writer then offers nine examples from the genre including authors both familiar (J.A. Jance, C.J. Box, Elmore Leonard), unfamiliar (Louis Owens, Anne Hillerman), and known but unread by me (Cormac McCarthy, Craig Johnson). Anne Hillerman is Tony Hillerman's daughter and "The Spider Woman’s Daughter shows that Anne Hillerman is now the bearer of the family torch."

Open Season is the first in a series about C.J. Box's protagonist Joe Pickett, a game warden in Wyoming. I have thoroughly enjoyed those books.