I've been spending some time each day the last couple weeks working at Lauderdale. I say working at, not working on, because I haven't actually written any words for it. Shoot, half the thing is written, I figure, by the time I root through and take the good parts from the existing draft.
There were at least two directions I could take that book, and I've settled on the direction it's going--crime novel--which means I need to reorganize and perfect the crimes themselves, how they fit together, Hank's role in solving them, and what the more significant background crime is. Funny, but a simple murder or assault is not an independent crime in these books; the crime is some underlying (or overarching) conspiracy, and murders simply happen as the conspirators attempt to keep things hidden. This is almost universal in crime novels--bodies pile up, but that isn't the real crime. Which is, in a sense, a real crime.
Bodies piled up aplenty in the previous version of Lauderdale but, partly because I wasn't sure what the book actually was, they didn't do so to any pattern or for any larger purpose other than to offend and sicken the narrator. Who deserved it, frankly, but that wasn't the point. The question was, is this the narrator's coming-of-age story, or is it a crime novel? Of course there was far too much autobiographical content in the book as it stood to easily change things around to focus on the coming-of-age aspect, and I think I made the right call--certainly the easy call--in deciding to proceed with it as a crime novel. Our narrator, Hank Lauderdale, is a somewhat different man than he was in the earlier version, but he is a unique protagonist for this sort of book, and I don't want to change that. Of course he's still a reporter, which is more or less the opposite of unique (ubiquitous?) in crime stories, but he's not a real reporter, and more importantly he doesn't actually want to solve this puzzle. He really just wants to get paid to support his partying habit. And how many crime novels feature a half-drunk grad student as the protagonist?
Plus, keeping the setting in South Florida gives me an excuse to reread a few Florida crime novels I have (I'm going to reread a few; I have rather more than a few) with an eye to maintaining some of the main aspects of that genre (yes, Florida Crime is an established subgenre... at least in my opinion. And dammit if I don't care about my own opinions why should anyone else? Come to think of it, why should anyone else anyway?). So I've changed up the "up next" listing on the right there, but I may not necessarily review those books, at least not in-depth, not here anyway. I don't think.