But participants did have some worthwhile things to say, particularly about their early inspirations. "I was huge fan of Batman," Pete Hamill said. "It has shadows."
And Paco Ignacio Taibo II said he was inspired early by Carl von Clausewitz. "`War is the continuation of politics by other means,'" Taibo said. "The phrase stayed inside me."
Caryl Férey repeated a sentiment I had heard from other crime writers that nonetheless ought to be bracing to all fans of the genre: "You can talk about anything in that kind of novel: politics, ethnic issues."
For Férey, the sentiment went hand in hand with a lively interest in the wider world and what one can say about that world in a crime novel. "I don't care about me," he said. "I care about others."
Taibo said the crime novel had usurped a place once occupied by another medium as a source of truth: "Journalism is becoming noise, noise, noise." And it did my heart good to hear him say what he thinks drives a story:
"Everyone says the plot is the instrument. No. The language is the instrument." Now, there's a crime writer worth investigating.
© Peter Rozovsky 2010