The framework of genre - be it sci-fi, detective fiction or thrillers - is, when used well, like a comfortable old coat, into which you slip with an anticipatory sigh of comfort. But once a novel strikes a false note, you suddenly start to notice the moth-holes, and the musty smell dry-cleaning cannot remove.
Out of my holiday reading, three books fitted into the classic - don't break the mould - take on genre. Martin O'Brien's Jacquot and the Waterman is that particular sub-formula of the foreign detective novel. The police detective is still usually an outsider, a mess with women, often with an alcohol problem - the only twist in this case is that Daniel Jacquot is a former rugby player "still remembered for the winning try he scored for France in a Five Nations Final against the English at Twickenham".
The investigation, of nasty, sudden killings of women, proceeds on its expected path - the rate of crimes increasing, the police force under pressure from the media, until the final twist that reveals the killer. (Here telegraphed a long way out.)
There's a touch of local colour - descriptions of the backways of Marseilles, a smattering of French words, but they fail to lift the entirely prosaic story, and character out of the mundane and predictable. This is genre used as the grungy old parka.
Then there was The Art of Getting Bent, by M. Sahm. Pure science fiction, it imagines a world in which a plague that annihilated millions has forced humans to either don cybernetics suits, or to become "Splices", taking on a significant proportion of human genomes in order to be resistant to the plague.
It is an interesting idea, and the science is carefully explained in the classic genre matter. Unfortunately, however, the quality of the writing doesn't match that of the thinking. The dialogue is clunky - all of the characters sounding the same, and the similes ... well the writer would be well advised to lock that particular rhetoric tool in a strongbox and throw away the key.
Finally, and the best of this classic bunch, is Christopher Brookmyre's Boiling a Frog. The comic thriller is perhaps one of the hardest genres to do well, and Brookmyre is one of its finest exponents. With Frog Brookmyre is back on his best milliennial form - his Not the End of the World had me very nearly rolling around on the floor in hysterics.
The first set-piece of the novel involves a prominent politician who has a name for being a womaniser, but is actually gay, an unfortunate accident with a vibrator, a straightlaced, Catholic spindoctor and a good-type female GP who suffers a broken angle on her medical mission of mercy to deal with the vibrator. In the wrong hands this could just be silly, but Brookmyre's pen is sure.