Corrigan said these mysteries go further than complaint, unexpectedly offering a utopian vision of what real and dignified work could be.
"We'd all like to call the shots," she said. "Dictate the terms, do something that's satisfying, say when it's done and, most of all, reunite the head with the hand -- combine cerebral and physical labor."
Corrigan quotes a Hammet character who said, "Liking work makes you want to do it well," and she noted that half-way through Chandler's "The Big Sleep" (1925), he's already solved the case.
"He's already been paid, but there's still something else."
Corrigan touched on post-60s mysteries, especially Robert B. Parker's Spencer novels, and in taking some questions afterward, listed as women whose work she likes, besides Paretsky, Liza Cody of the Anna Lee series and Lisa Scotteline whose legal thrillers have been compared to John Grisham's work. Corrigan also follows the Swedish mystery writer Henning Mankell, creator of police inspector Kurt Wallander. Asked how she chooses those four mysteries a year for "Fresh Air," Corrigan said, "I'm looking for ambition. I take my mysteries seriously."
Corrigan is working on a book about the literary landscape in 1930s New York City.
This article appears in the 10/22/09 issue of the Syracuse City Eagle weekly on p. 9. Nancy covers the arts and writes the film column "Make it Snappy." Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.