Nostalgia City Mysteries

By Mark S. Bacon

Tag Archives: L.J. Sellers

Do you hate f***ing profanity in mystery novels?

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A thug the size of an NFL lineman grabs Sam Shamus around the neck and throws him down the stairs. The bad guy follows him, stomps on his face and tells him he’s a low-life private dick and if he ever shows up again he’ll get a real beating.

Somehow Sam manages to get to his feet. He glares at the crook and says, “Pardon me sir, but I object to the way you’re characterizing my profession. And I ask that you refrain from inflicting further physical indignities, you hooligan.”Profanity-balloon

That’s what Sam says, anyway. Your average detective-novel hero might use different words.

Sam’s situation—or a version of it—went through my mind when I started writing mystery short stories and later, my first mystery novel. Should I use profanity? My initial answer: no. We’re slammed with the f-word so often in crime movies that profanity loses its punch. But the more I wrote, and the more I thought about it, studiously avoiding profanity seemed unrealistic. What the hell was I to do?

Profanity in literature, a fascinating topic—particularly in the mystery/suspense/thriller genre—varies from author to author. But before we get into that, a few words about four-letter words. While I eventually decided in favor of what’s delicately called swear words in my fiction, I’m still a journalist when I’m writing articles online. My inner AP Stylebook doesn’t permit me to use words you won’t find in your daily paper. Therefore I’m going to resort to f*** and s*** for two words everyone knows. Bear with me.

Not long ago, someone writing on an Amazon discussion page asked about bad language. She wrote: “I am Continue Reading →

Can you read three novels at once? I can’t

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Ali Reynolds, a former TV news anchor who returned to her hometown in Arizona after a series of personal crises, is sitting the waiting room of a Phoenix hospital burn ward. She’s an undercover operative for a local sheriff, hunting for the person who stripped a woman bare, doused her with gasoline and set her afire. The woman’s husband walks into the room.

Sula Moreno, despite her phobias and family tragedies, is about to take on the powerful, cold-blooded CEO of a Eugene, Ore., pharmaceutical company. Standing outside a corporate conference room, Sula hears the CEO arguing with a VP about undisclosed dangers of an anti-depressant drug that is about to be launched—with possibly deadly results. She records the conversation, but the CEO spots her.Trial-by-Fire-Jance-Web-opt

It’s just another day in the life of Spenser and Hawk. Someone is trying to shake down the operator of a classy, upscale Boston whorehouse run by an old friend of Spenser’s. With expected aplomb, Spenser and Hawk dispatch two batches of thugs but find themselves in something much deeper than a simple protection racket.

Some people are comfortable reading more than one novel at a time. I’m not one of them. Frequently, I read nonfiction while I’m in the middle of a novel, but the thought of trying to keep track of characters and plots from two (or more?) novels at the same time takes the fun out of it. I like to live in novels, identify with characters, appreciate an author’s skill with words and, in the case of mysteries, try to solve the puzzle. Why would I want to do that with three crime books simultaneously? Continue Reading →

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