Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Ooops! I Did It Again...

Believe me, my intentions were pure.

It was all just supposed to be fun. Nobody's eye was supposed to be put out.

Or, er, left out.

I've been a fan of MYSTERY SCENE for years. Back in the eighties, when I hadn't even heard of Bouchercon and the existence of mystery bookstores seemed more like a cruel rumour more than anything. issues of MS were hard to come by, particularly in Montreal, but every now and then I'd stumble over a copy (in a magazine store or while visiting my sis in Toronto) and snatch it up. Believe me, I read and re-read those things from cover to cover.

It was in the pages of MYSTERY SCENE that my understanding of the possibilities of crime fiction and crime fiction fandom first took wing, as I discovered that there were other people out there, even writers I'd actually heard of, who were every bit as passionate (and possibly anal) as I was. But, of course, far more articulate.

Naturally, the magazine's founders, Robert Randisi and Ed Gorman were there, but also along for the ride were regular contributors like uber-fan Max Allan Collins, Peter Sellers (who did a regular column on Canadian crime fiction) and Jan Grape who covered the P.I. beat back when the internet was only some geek's wet dream. And a cast of thousands.

These people were huge influences on me, and subsequently on the THRILLING DETECTIVE WEB SITE. And when Kate and Brian, who took over the reins a few years ago, invited me to do a P.I. column and an occasional article, I was over the moon.

In other words, I owe those guys. All of them. Big time. So naturally I wanted to help make the 100th issue of MYSTERY SCENE special. Or more special, I guess.

Kate had some great ideas to mark the occasion, and I figured a list of some of my favourite eyes that had taken the stage since the magazine first appeared, way back in 1985 (the "Mystery Scene era," I called it) would be sorta fun. I asked her what she thought.

"Go ahead," Kate said. Somebody should have stopped me then.

The problem, as Bob Seger once put it, was deciding what to leave in, and what to leave out. I wanted the list to be wide-ranging, including the expected, the unexpected and the inexplicable, a list of eyes whom I felt had somehow bent, folded and mutilated the genre –or otherwise stuck in my craw.

But I've been kicking myself ever since I first sent it off. How could I forget so-and-so? Why on earth did I include whatzizname? Why, why, why?

But worse are the other people -- authors, fans, readers, many of whom I consider friends -- who have volunteered to help out in the kicking department. And in some cases, I agree with them.

I dunno. It was an informal list, not meant to be definitive or anything, more a sort of mix-tape of personal faves than anything.

If you'd like to see the complete list, along with my pithy (and in some cases just pissy) comments, it's over on MYSTERY SCENE's new blog. I'd love to hear what YOU think...

Don't worry. I'm a big boy. I can take it.

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Blogger Dave White said...

Thank you so much for the mention Kevin. It means a lot.

6:58 AM, August 02, 2007  
Blogger Donna said...

Wow. Thank you Kevin. I'm so chuffed to be included. Gobsmacked too. As Dave says, it means a lot. I owe you a beer. And a hug.

7:41 AM, August 02, 2007  
Blogger Christopher Mills said...

What the –?

Stunned. Thanks.
Matt thanks you, too.

8:18 PM, August 02, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

Well, I was sorry to see Truman Smith left out, but then since Ed Gorman had three candidates who didn't make the cut, I guess I can't feel too bad. On the other hand, . . .

12:08 PM, August 03, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got a big kick out of your list, especially listing little known characters, and I was overjoyed at the inclusion of Veronica Mars and Daryl Zero, but I have to take issue with one omission: Where the Hell was the New York P.I. alcoholic Matthew Scudder? He's been one of the most influential series characters in 30 years but is still weirdly underrated. I can understand omitting Marlowe, Spade, and Archer because everyone knows who they are, and really, they're above a list like that, but no Scudder? Wow. As much as I love Bruen's Jack Taylor, he's just a more sarcastic Irish Scudder.

And since when is Jack Reacher a private eye? Kudos on putting Mike Kellerman though, I always wanted to see a Homicide spin-off by Fontana and crew with that character

11:16 AM, August 05, 2007  
Blogger Christopher Mills said...

Matt Scudder's creation pre-dates the "Mystery Scene era," which is, as Kevin states, the period the article covers. As Scudder first appeared in the mid-70's, and Mystery Scene didn't begin publishing until 1985, Scudder wasn't eligible...

4:31 PM, August 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, that thoroughly bitch-slaps me down. I'll read the intro more closely next time

5:50 PM, August 05, 2007  
Blogger Kevin Burton Smith said...

Guilty, guilty, guilty, Bill.

The list was, as I've said before, a real top-of-the-head sort of thing.

And availability certainly played a factor. Unfortunately, I've only read one Truman Smith book, years and years ago, a library copy I stumbled across.

Once upon a time, I lived near the Westmount Library, one of the best public libraries in Canada, and they had a great mystery section. The current libraries I have easy access are considerably spottier, and the local B&N (the only bookstore in town) generally plays it safe as far as mysteries go (and seems to bypass any publishers that play to the library market, such as Five Star) so there are tons of them I've no doubt missed over the years. Or been unable to follow up on.

Anyway, I've been kicking myself nearly every day over those I've forgotten to include, although I'm more than willing to defend any of my inclusions. Another day, it might have been another list.

8:22 AM, August 10, 2007  

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