I am not a master of mysteries. With each book, I learn more about plotting, characterization, spinning out the strands that will keep readers involved. But I love mysteries, and I am grateful for the interest and support of the readers who have encouraged and maybe even enjoyed my fledgling efforts.
That's why I was so ticked off when I opened Entertainment Weekly and read the following from Dennis Lehane, talking about mysteries: ''I was never comfortable with them anyway. I'd be writing these friggin' whodunits,'' he laughs, getting excited, ''and I could care less. I wanna tell everybody on page 2, he killed so-and-so, he done it! If you look at my books in that regard — and I'll be 100 percent honest about my flaws — you can see how I was whipping out the kitchen sink just to obscure s---, like the identity of the serial killer or whatever, and that's why the books got so labyrinthian in the last 100 pages.''
Lehane, for those who don't know, just published a non-mystery, an E.L. Doctorow-style historical epic called "The Given Day." I'm happy for him. But to launch his new venture, he has stirred up the whole genre war issue (are mysteries literature?, etc.) and it has given me a headache. I understand trying to drum up attention, but this simply shows a lack of respect for the reader (never mind the genre). I've never been a fan of Lehane, and after reading this I'm even less inclined to try his so-called "serious" fiction. If you don't love the genre – and respect the readers – you shouldn't have been writing mysteries. Shame on you, Dennis.