Tired of the Cliches

I love mysteries, but I’m burned out on all the cliches. I won’t read about one more drunken, divorced cop with a tragic past.  I wish more authors had the same attitude as author Laura Wilson.  She writes in RED HERRINGS, the UK Crimes Writers Association newsletter (and in Shots Magazine), that she consciously avoided the cliches when she started her new series:

I decided, at the outset, that I did not want DI Stratton to be a conventionally flawed crime protagonist. He is neither a drunk, a compulsive gambler, nor an adulterer, and his psyche isn’t scarred by past personal tragedy — but nor is he a hero of lonely integrity walking the mean streets or a Dixon of Dock Green-like, salt-of-the-earth embodiment of law and order. He is an ordinary man with a realistic background […] lower middle class and father of two, he lives with his family and works in the West End. He is an intelligent, humorous man, but with rudimentary education; cynical, but kind and humane; happily married, but with a wandering eye. Above all, he is pragmatic.

4 thoughts on “Tired of the Cliches”

  1. Just scanned my shelves and I found a couple of recommendations:
    Robert L. Wise’s trilogy about Sam and Vera Sloan – a cop and his wife. Great marriage with a daughter who’s ten in the first book, fifteen in the second, and eighteen in the third.
    Tim Downs’ Bugman series about an entomologist. He’s single, but if I remember correctly is fairly normal in that department, just kind of eccentric when it comes to his love of insects and socially awkward.
    Hannah Alexander’s Healing Touch trilogy – a set of suspense novels revolving around a doctor, a nurse, and a pastor in a small town. The doctor is widowed, but more of the emphasis is on his family and less on the tragedy and the pastor is engaged. Overall fairly average.

  2. Not to mention Stuart Kaminsky’s series about the happily married Abe Lieberman. But yeah, I bleed with you, baby, about cliches, like the handicapped detective.

  3. I can’t think of many handicapped detectives, Tedd….but I sure can think of a LOT of detectives who are divorced and deal with a substance abuse problem and some tragic event in their past. How many Harry Bosch and John Rebus clones are there? Way, way, way too many. And each one is treated as if they have reinvented the police procedural when they are rehashing the same old cliches. Maybe I just read too much crime fiction and need to take a break…


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