More about violence in crime fiction

I wasn't intending to write a blog post about the endless rehashing over the past week of an article written by Jessica Mann in Standpoint magazine at the beginning of September. In that article, Jessica wrote that she was no longer going to review books that contained "outpourings of sadistic misogyny". I wrote a post here about it, to which several people kindly responded. Martin Edwards also wrote about this article and topic, a few days previously, and an interesting discussion ensued.
All calmed down until last weekend, when The Observer and The Telegraph ran belated articles, picked up by many other newspapers, magazines and blogs,  stating that Jessica Mann is giving up reviewing crime fiction – untrue, as summarised in this excellent post by CrimeFictionReader of It's a Crime! blog, and this equally interesting post (with long comment discussion) by Sarah Weinman at Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind blog.
Enough written on the subject, I thought, until today, when author Val McDermid weighs in at The Guardian, in a blog post with the title Complaints about women writing misogynist crime fiction are a red herring. Val McDermid is an internationally best-selling crime-fiction author who has written books that are pretty close to being sadistic enough for me to consider quitting reading her – though her last few novels have been far less explicit, and all the better for it. Val McDermid's thesis in her Guardian piece is that women are no "worse" than men in writing sadistic serial-killer novels, and that it has all been going on for a very long time anyway. She points out, quite correctly, that there are excellent novels being written that address very dark topics, and very poor novels being written that are about cosy, "safe" mysteries.
All fair enough, but I can't agree with her concluding paragraph: "I wish we could get over this pointless gender squabbling and address the really interesting question of why we are so fascinated by the threat, the fact and the consequences of violence." I think Jessica Mann was right to draw attention to the unacceptability of some current commercial fiction – and to point out that in some cases women are writing it. Of course, such judgements have a large element of subjectivity, but I'd personally like to see more marketing budgets devoted to novels that aren't quite so sick – I'm sure they could do just as well, even better. (Stieg Larsson is one example.)
I also take issue with this alleged "fascination with the threat, fact and consequences of violence". What Jessica Mann was speaking out against, I believe, was not "violence" but  "sadistic misogyny", which is different – excessive dwelling on torture, in effect. Although I am not "fascinated" with any aspect of violence, I have no objection to it if it isn't done to unnecessary excess. I do like reading a dramatic story – by which I mean a story with drama in it. There probably is some aspect of violence in any drama, almost by definition. But one does not have to be "fascinated" by it or even interested in it. A good author can engage the attention and sympathy of the reader in very many ways, without dwelling on this aspect – think Arnaldur Indridason for example, or Karin Fossum, Michael Connelly, Harlan Coben or Diane Setterfield. Some novels I read are more upfront about violence than others, and I don't mind that at all. I just don't go out of my way to read about it. In other cases (eg Jo Nesbo) I'm quite happy to read the book and skip over the odd page here or there when it all gets a bit much.
I think there are some lazy novels being written (by men as well as by women) that are wholly poorly constructed and feature repeated set pieces of violence in what seems to be the main reason for their existence. Quite a few of them are "best sellers". Although books like this have always been written, it's nice that one has so much choice that one can decide not to read them, and instead turn to books that are less formulaic, reflecting the individualistic imagination of their authors.