Here's an interesting article by Charles Taylor in Lapham's Quarterly which discusses the progression of mystery/crime fiction from Christie to Leonard, among others, and defending its place in the canon, almost. Quite enjoyable, if not comprehensive enough in its presentation of the contemporary scene. The small presses are ignored, but that's to be expected, almost. The small presses are the ones in the literary gutter, where they belong, doing the work the big presses don't, ideally . Taylor seems to have the right frame, and this article isn't intended to have a genre-encompassing look, but rather a small sampling. The lack of attention to the smaller publishers is unfortunate, but it's out of sight, out of mind. To the article itself though, the last paragraph:
The home that crime fiction has chosen for itself is often overlooked in pointless discussions about whether the road taken is high or low. Any fiction that gives readers some way of grappling with the most unsettling facts of contemporary life—that tries, as any art should, to engage experience before judging it—is hardly a lowly enterprise, even if the territory it’s working isn’t the classiest.