knrwrites asked: Quick question. On one post you had mentioned hardboiled novels which made me think of eggs (i was hungry :-d) but it also made me wonder if there's a such thing as softboiled novel? If there is can you explain the difference?
Are there softboiled novels? Certainly, but they are not referred to as such. Hardboiled detectives were referred to as hardboiled because they were being contrasted with Golden Age crime fiction: Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, etc. In the classic locked-room mysteries, and subsequent cozies, mannerly sleuths solve elaborate crimes with equally elaborate ratiocination.
In his essay, “The Simple Art of Murder,” Raymond Chandler argued that “[Dashiell] Hammett gave murder back to the kind of people that commit it for reasons, not just to provide a corpse; and with the means at hand, not with hand-wrought duelling pistols, curare, and tropical fish.” Hardboiled detectives were gritty, morally ambivalent and (for the time, at least) sexually frank. You certainly would not use this list of characteristics to describe Lord Peter Wimsey or Miss Marple.
These Golden Age mysteries were around long before hardboiled fiction makes an appearance, so they aren’t really described as softboiled. I, however, am not above using softboiled as a disparaging term for crime fiction which strikes me as too gentle.