So the standard book contract for a thriller these days is 100,000 words.
I've been thinking about that a lot as I've found several unputdownable mystery and suspense novels I've attempted to read recently to be...well, putdownable.
Here's a conversation that might take place today.
Editor: I like what you've written so far. Give us another 52,906 words and we're good.
F. Scott Fitzgerald: Uh, okay, I guess.
A lot of people think The Great Gatsby needed work.
But when it comes to noir, and the mystery genre, I'm not sure where we'd be without these titles. Were these books all too short?
Page count/word count:
Graham Greene: The Third Man, 1950, 160, 28402
James M. Cain: Double Indemnity, 1943, 115, 30072
James M. Cain: The Postman Always Rings Twice, 1934, 116, 35000
John Buchan: The Thirty-Nine Steps 1915, 225, 41807
Walter Mosley: Devil in a Blue Dress, 1990, 228, 50880
Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None, 1939, 199, 52656
Mickey Spillane: I, the Jury, 1947, 160, 53310
Ira Levin: Rosemary's Baby, 1967, 245, 56044
Raymond Chandler: The Big Sleep, 1939, 234, 56955
Arthur Conan Doyle: The Hound of the Baskervilles, 1902, 128, 57689
Vera Caspary: Laura, 1942, 236, 58170
Dashiell Hammett: The Glass Key, 1931, 224, 58170
Agatha Christie: Murder on the Orient Express, 1934, 336, 58514
How would you go about padding their word count? Ideas?
Last Heartthrob - The Gunshots and the Femme Fatale Extras
We end this series where we started, with more morally ambiguous, really bad detective work by Gene Hackman in Night Moves (1975). It's definitely a post-Hays Code kind of picture, and we'll take a look at what that means. Bonus. It couldn't be more '70s!
I hope to do for Rodgers & Hart's "Where or When?" what Stanley Kubrick did for "Singin' in the Rain."
I'll spoil where I got the aha moment for Last Heartthrob.
The Scene of the Crime this week is Bridgeport BrewPub.
And we'll start finding out if there's Popular Demand for the return of Walter Forbes and Jane Greer.
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