Noir at the Bar V: Beyond Genre Borders
Jonathan Maberry has won awards for horror writing (though he said at last night's fifth Noir at the Bar reading that books with the horror label sell poorly in the United States – "We call them `supernatural thrillers.'"). Whatever the label, no crime-fiction reader ought to be scared off. For one thing, Maberry says he's loved crime writing from a young age, and he hangs out with crime writers in Philadelphia's Liars Club. For another, his new novel, Patient Zero, is not horror, but a bio-terrorism thriller. For a third, based on the selections Maberry read last night, the book will contain much to delight crime readers.
Maberry's protagonist, Joe Ledger, a former soldier and a Baltimore police officer, can crack as wise as the best fictional PIs, even when enlisted by a secretive government agency to help battle a grave security threat. Indeed, Maberry said after the reading that John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee was one of his models, both as a wisecracker and as a protagonist with intellectual interests.
Maberry says the novel will also invoke terrorism and feature international and corporate villains in addition to its threat to all life. Much of this is new territory for a hero who talks like a Travis McGee or a Philip Marlowe or an Elvis Cole. And I'm going to explore that territory because the genre-mixing sounds like fun.
Maberry says: "I wrote the book that I would like to read," a deceptively simple thought and a liberating sentiment. Think of the book as a mat laid at the doorstep of thrillerdom with the friendly words: "Welcome, crime readers."
Patient Zero will be published by St. Martin's Press in March.
© Peter Rozovsky 2008