The subjects of this book share an obsession. They have all been driven to interpret life in terms of melodrama. Raymond Chandler made perhaps the best definition of melodrama when he called it 'an exaggeration of violence and fear beyond what one normally experiences,’ and yet all art exaggerates some kind of experience. The enigma of the crime-artist – a generic term for this group of novelists and a film-maker - is why he chooses to inhabit this particular world, the brutal and menacing and conflicted world of melodrama.
To trace the separate lives of crime-artists, from Wilkie Collins to Alfred Hitchcock, is like trying to find the vital but hidden link between the different travellers who passed each other on the Bridge of San Luis Rey. Relating the biographical material to the work and looking for figures in both carpets, I found that they not only have projected a continuous universe in which the dominant reality is criminal, but unfolded a continuous secret autobiography. For these men to reach the dangerous edge is to find a point of no return. The crime-artist ends where he began, high on the amphetamine of fear.
Gavin Lambert, The Dangerous Edge -- An Inquiry Into The Lives of Nine Masters Of Suspense, New York, Grossman Publishers, 1976