Hard-boiled vs. Noir: Background information when reading City of Dragons

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City of Dragons

By Kelli Stanley

City of Dragons
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  • Hardcover: Feb 2010,
    352 pages.
    Paperback: Aug 2011,
    352 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Hard-boiled vs. Noir

Hard-boiled fiction arose in the United States in the aftermath of WWI, and gained popularity and refinement in the years leading up to WWII. The popular genre was a direct reflection of the pessimism, uncertainty and disillusionment sweeping the country in the wake of gangster-driven crime, political scandal and economic crisis, and marked a decidedly American departure from the classic whodunit formula.

Fiction magazines proliferated in the 1920's and one in particular, Black Mask, exclusively featured action-oriented detective stories. Founded in 1920 by H.L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan, it included the early efforts of such writers as Carroll John Daly and Dashiell Hammett. Captain Joseph T. Shaw, who favored "economy of expression" and "authenticity of character and action," took over as editor in 1926. His stylistic preferences molded the detective thriller into what is now defined as hard-boiled fiction, characterized by lean, direct writing and a sense of dark, ...

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