Straight, Bent and Barbara Vine
Allen & Unwin, $16.96 pb, 254 pp
As the co-publisher of Mean Streets, Australia’s ‘crime, mystery and detective’ fiction magazine, I have, like Garry Disher, occasions when I wonder what the various terms actually mean and what separates them. It’s something Disher addresses in the author’s note to this very fine collection of stories which are amongst the best writing Disher has done. As Disher says:
From time to time I’m invited to talk on ‘mystery’ fiction or review a ‘detective’ novel. I wish those terms could be abolished. All fiction is mystery fiction, and these days few detective walk the mean streets of the genre. I prefer the term crime fiction, for it is fiction dealing with the perpetration, investigation, reasons for or effect of a crime, and my taste is for contemporary crime novels, which work in three main levels – as mysteries, critiques of society and accounts of character.