I often wonder how many great novels readers in the crime genre miss because they're tagged as literary or romance. What got me thinking about this is a book I just finished called "Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen.
Yes, it's considered both literary and romance, but at the center of the story is a murder. And not just one murder, by the end of the book four of the main characters are dead with a trail of innocent bodies piling up along the way. The characters in this book are straight out of a thirties era pulp novel. We have a circus owner who will do anything to have the top rated circus including using a paranoid schizophrenic to do his dirty work. The rest of the cast includes a young femme fatale who's married to that paranoid, a hero who has lost his parents, his home, and his future because of a car accident, a circus full of thugs and whores, plus a menagerie full of animals. If it weren't for the feel good ending, this novel would be straight up noir.
With all these ingredients why didn't the crime community embrace this novel? Was it the fact that the novel was billed as a romance? Did the fact that a ninety-three year old man was the narrator turn them off? What was it about this book that it didn't hit the crime fiction radar? And are there other books out there that are fairly straight up crime but still don't get noticed by mystery readers?