Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Former Journalist Writes a Traditional, Cozy, Hard-boiled, Thriller

Today, please welcome Gerrie Ferris Finger. Gerrie is a former reporter who is full of all things southern.

This is one of my very favorite tidbits from her website (aside from the fact that she obviously loves dogs):

I covered crime for the newspaper. Real crime is sordid, with no romance or redeeming features. Justice often doesn't prevail. Real people go back to miserable lives. In writing fictional crime, I can make the good guys winners and give the bad guys what they deserve.

Gerrie has a new release of an award winning novel coming up, and I invited her to tell us about it here.

By the way, Gerrie—love the cover!

Thanks, Peg, for letting me drop by.

My novel, The End Game, won the Malice Domestic/St. Martin's Press First Traditional Mystery competition last year. The hard cover will be released on April 27, 2010 in time for the writer/reader convention Malice Domestic in Washington, D. C.

Here is a quote from the publisher: "The End Game features a strong new heroine in a vivid Southern setting. Gerrie Ferris Finger puts a new spin on the classic mystery novel."

Traditional and classic, but what is the spin? That gets into a discussion of genres. Readers who prefer certain genres ask me, "What is yours?"

Genres are broad classifications like the traditional mystery, the hard-boiled crime story, the thriller. Throw in subgenres – the medical thriller, the noir, the English manor cozy, the police procedural – it's enough to confound the purist. So into what genre does The End Game fall?

Robin Agnew reviewed The End Game a couple of weeks ago. Here is her take:

"… it’s hardly a cozy, though it gives a nod to the traditional mystery through the use of an actual locked room murder and some tricky stuff involving train whistles… (It's) fairly hard boiled, and so is the topic she’s chosen to write about: missing children. Her spare prose and unsentimental writing style get you through some of the hard stuff in the story. Her main character, Moriah Dru, runs an agency called Child Trace, Inc. She’s retired from the police force and often works with her ex-partner, Rick Lake, as she does in this book. … Like a runaway freight train, this novel is all about narrative drive."

Did you detect a thriller element in Robin's last sentence? That's because my traditional novel with noir and cozy elements turns into a thriller.

My prose is spare like noir. My heroine, who tells the story, experiences the crime through unsentimental eyes, though at times she wishes she were tougher. What makes spare prose? Using fewer adjectives and adverbs. I learned that from reporting stories for the Atlanta newspaper. If I had a twenty-inch "hole" to fit three days worth of research, I had to make every word count.

Robin again: "The investigation seems like an explication of the neighborhood – the relationships and resentments of those who have lived in it for a long time – but really the author is taking you by the hand and letting you think over each resident as a possible suspect."

Here The End Game is a traditional, rather cozy mystery. We have a woman who resembles Christie's Miss Marple, a dressmaker who drinks tea and knows everything that goes on in the neighborhood. We know she's withholding information, but not why.

So that's The End Game, spun into a traditional, cozy, hard-boiled thriller.


Thank you for teasing us a little, Gerrie. It was fun.

My wishes for continued success with both this novel, and those that will come next.

You can read an excerpt of The End Game at Gerrie's website.

CR: Just about finished with Robin Burcell's The Bone Chamber. It's a completely riveting book. If you read The De Vinci Code, and the premise intrigued you, you are gonna love Robin's book.

It's all better with friends.


  1. You left out noir. Can't wait to read the WHOLE book. Best of luck, Gerrie