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|NATURE OF THE BEAST|| |
|McBAIN'S CONTRACT WITH HIS READERS|| |
|I like to believe I've made a contract with the reader.|
The contract is a simple one.
I know all the rules of mystery writing, and I promise
that I will observe them so long as they provide a novel
that will keep you fascinated, intrigued, and entertained.
If they get in the way of that basic need, I'll either bend
the rules or break them, but I will never cheat the
There will be a murder, I promise you, and there will be
men and women trying hard to solve that murder. Most
often -- but not always -- they will succeed. Sometimes
a cop will be wounded. Sometimes a cop will even be
killed. These are realistic novels, so if you are looking
for Agatha Christie, you're not only in the wrong pew,
you're in the wrong church.
One of my first editors said that there was a "clinical
verity" to the 87th Precinct novels, but I have never
glorified violence, and never gloated over it, and I
promise you I never will. I am not writing for children.
but I promise you that the sex in these novels will never
be gratuitous or prurient. I sometimes feel like a fly on
the wall, listening, observing. I like the idea of walking
into a room with these cops, feeling what these men or
women are feeling, and then helping you to feel the
same way. I like to place you there. I promise that I'll do
my best to make you feel you're actually living these
I promise I will never bore you silly with long
descriptions of winding roads through remote forests. I
promise I will never write tiresome interior monologues
that serve no purpose but to examine my own navel. I
promise you dialogue that ain't real, but that sounds
real. I promise you men and women who love (and
sometimes lose), men and women who break the law
(and sometimes win), men and women who are
confronted on a daily basis with urgent problems they
must solve. Just like you and me, come to think of it.
I promise to keep you awake all night.
I promise to keep writing till the day I die.
I will sign this contract in blood if you like.
© Evan Hunter