Over at Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind Sarah Weinman has opened a discussion on whether private novels are being bought and published. She says not much private eye fiction is being published in the United States. A novelist named Mark Coggins has written the decline in popularity set in the early 90s. He also sets forth his experience of near misses in getting private eye fiction published. Part of the discussion missing from the blogs is the nature of private eye fiction. In my Vincent Calvino private eye series, which is set in Southeast Asia, this genre opens the door to novels that taken into account social, economic and political justice. In the developing world where the rule of law is less secure, political institutions less powerful and stable, and injustice common, there is an opportunity to take on important issues. The idea behind a private eye is someone who, in a world awash with those looking to make a fast buck, or make the right connection, there are those who have a sense of justice, who value principle, and seek to do the right thing even though the consequence of such action may present all kinds of personal dangers not apparent in the United States.
In February a Norwegian edition of Spirit House was published, and a French edition of Zero Hour in Phnom Penh was also published. A TV documentary crew from Germany was in Bangkok to film a documentary about Vincent Calvino’s world. It will air this spring. Another film crew filmed a French documentary around Zero Hour in Phnom Penh for the CBC. Zero Hour in Phnom Penh also won a 2004 German Critics Award for Crime Fiction. My own sense is that private eye fiction from Southeast Asia isn’t dying. It may be that the genre has moved offshore.