More and more crimenovels are obese. Stop the shortage of shorties.
The crime scene is ballooning. Crimenovels are showing signs of obesity, hovering around three hundred pages each and counting. It’s hard to come upon a novel that’s under 200 pages. Yet if you look at the genre as purely entertaining, why are there so few novels that tell their story in less pages and allow you to read them “in between” some other books? Most novels of up to and around 300 pages simply do not have what it takes to go on that long. Even the most popular authors of the genre — like Ian Fleming and Ed McBain — wrote several novels that clocked under 200 pages. Sometimes as few as 160 of 180 pages. So if these great authors of the genre thought it was OK to write a short novel, like a short burst of entertainment, why are so many novels these days close to or over 300 pages?
I propose a new wave of light crimenovels. Books that stay well under 200 pages simply because they’re supposed to be a quick read. It can be done.
“Casino Royale” by Ian Fleming is 188 pages.
“The Man with the Golden Gun” by Ian Fleming is 169 pages (slightly depending on the edition you’re reading).
“Killer’s Wedge” by Ed McBain is 188 pages.
“Lady Killer” by Ed MacBain is 194 pages.
“Pietr the Latvian” by Georges Simenon is 176 pages.
I’m sure there’s an audience that is continuously looking for shorter novels. Perhaps one day it will be a genre all on its own, with its own buttons in the online stores. The novel that lives in that unique space between short story and the thick novels. And, yes, I’m biased because my own series of radio detective novels are all between 100 and 180 pages, roughly. But that’s not a coincidence, that’s a choice. I’m writing the kind of books I’m always looking for: short, entertaining and not trying to stretch a story to meet some imaginary standard.
And besides, Carl Pappas, the hero of my novels, wouldn’t let me.