Can you have a great mystery novel without ‘blood’ and ‘guts’?
I certainly think so, although recently I’ve found it more difficult to find them. The real masters of the genre have never used graphic violence to ‘spice up’ their plots. Agatha Christie, P.D James, Ruth Rendell (writing also as Barbara Vine), Josephine Tey and Susan Hill can create genuine chills through their suspenseful prose, interwoven with just the hint of the worst crimes that mankind (and womankind) are capable of. These great writers avoid stomach churning descriptions of blood and guts but rely instead on very clever storytelling and well observed characterisation. However, now that we expect a certain amount of gore in our T.V dramas and mystery fiction, is it possible to write a top novel in this field without it? Or will we now need to create a whole new genre of fiction for this type of narrative? It’s a large field and I hope there’s room for everyone’s tastes within it- I certainly enjoy a good ‘serial-killer chiller’ myself, but my favourites are those books that tease me along with a labyrinthine plot and a final conclusion that actually seems plausible to me because I feel that I understand the motives of the main characters. I don’t like an ending that just parachutes in from nowhere and makes me feel dissatisfied and cheated. Any suggestions on great writers; new and old who manage to achieve this would be gratefully received.