The New York Times reports that as the city becomes a safer, cleaner place to live, it has become a lot less interesting for mystery novelists to write about.
As New York celebrates the sharp decline in crime — earlier this year
the city revealed that the 494 homicides in 2007 were the fewest since
reliable police statistics became available in 1963 — the crime writer
may be the only New Yorker for whom that drop is not an unequivocal
blessing. Just as the breakup of the Soviet Union caused problems for
writers whose plots hinged on the dark doings of the cold war, so New
York’s crime writers are wondering where to find grist in a far safer
In January, Mr. Bain was the main speaker at a meeting of the Mystery Writers of America, held at the National Arts Club, opposite Gramercy Park.
dinner in the club’s high-ceilinged dining room, Mr. Bain, a tall man
with a white beard, reminisced about the early ’90s, when his daughter
lived on Sullivan Street in Greenwich Village. Her apartment building
was next to a social club run by Vincent Gigante,
a k a the Chin, the mobster whose associates used to sit outside the
club, playing cards and drinking late into the night. If one of the men
saw his daughter emerging from the subway station a few blocks away,
Mr. Gigante dispatched one of them to walk her home safely.
other writers at the table laughed, but their laughs were tinged with
nostalgia for a vanished version of New York that could hand you a
scene, just like that.