Anonymous asked: what is "noir novels?"
I have addressed this point here and here. Nonetheless, it is a good time to reiterate my view of what noir is, given that I was just questioning the noir bona fides of Stieg Larsson.
Noir is, to some degree, a matter of “I know it when I see it.” If you read the previous posts, you’ll see that noir developed out of the hardboiled tradition. Authors like James M. Cain and Cornell Woolrich wrote stories that were as bleak and hard as anything hardboiled (if not more so!), but did not center on the hardboiled detective.
There is no Philip Marlowe or Continental Op to set things right in Cain’s writing. The protagonists are undone by their own desires, just like everyone else. James M. Cain was an early pioneer of noir, and other notable noir authors include Cornell Woolrich, Dorothy B. Hughes, Jim Thompson, Patricia Highsmith and George V. Higgins. More recently, Elmore Leonard, Dennis Lehane and James Sallis have all written excellent noir.
In a nutshell, this is what noir fiction is. It is not film noir, which can be based on a work of literary noir (Double Indemnity, Strangers on a Train), but may also be derived from hardboiled fiction (The Maltese Falcon).
As always, I invite readers to offer alternate views or clarifications to my own opinion.