One of my German friends was asking me what was the English word for Krimi. It struck me that Krimi covers the entire mystery market for the German reader, and the English word "mystery" is only translated as Geheimnis in German, meaning" secret", or Rätsel meaning" puzzle". Whatever the story, bloody or bloodless, from hard-bitten police Commissars to dotty Miss Marple-like amateur detectives, it's all crime to them. However, the English-speaking market is broken down into many mystery sub-genres. Mystery writers are encouraged to tag their work as cozy mystery, police procedural, forensic, private eye, hard-boiled, noir international, regional or historical. I describe my book as both forensic and international noir.
Now there is a lot of debate about what is really noir, but at The Rap Sheet, I found a very articulate and surprisingly brave protest about gore pornography clothing itself under the class and legitimacy of the noir title: If the original noirs were usually about normal, or at least identifiable characters being drawn into the darkness, that's an era that is long gone. So many of the recent noir novels I've read are populated by amoral sociopath who are already plenty dark.
Side-stepping the question of where this disturbing rise in blood-lust in popular literature is coming from, I agree that what is intriguing and intellectually rich about the classic noir is the exploration of why ordinary people go bad. In our era of moral relativity, capturing that moment of twilight carries an urgency, a seductive artistic opportunity. Painting it black is boring, as well as morally questionable.
A student of science is familiar with the concept of discrete and indiscrete measurements. Some matter can be divided down to its smallest component, but other things exist in an infinite continuum of gradation. Is there a day, an hour, a moment when a person becomes a murderer? How much free will is involved or is there a perfect storm that blows a normal soul off course, beyond the pale?