Everybody is talking about it. Everybody is reading it. Everybody is publishing it. What is it about crime fiction that makes readers devour one novel after another? And am I one of them?
There is something that us humans like about being scared, or even frightened, by a story. It is in our nature to hunger for fear, uncertainty, jumpy scary moments, and a happy ending (not many crime novels end well for the ‘bad guys’).
It’s also the fact that most detectives – or at least the successful ones – are not very likeable. And though we wouldn’t want to meet them in person, we love reading about them, and getting into their heads. We love feeling like we know them better than the other characters in the story, and that we have a certain connection with them, no matter how antisocial they are (look at Sherlock, for example). We are special. We are the readers.
Personally, I am not too sure why the whole craze around crime fiction boomed in the recent years. Was it the BBC Sherlock that started it? Was it J. K. Rowling turning crime writer with balls? I shouldn’t say this, being a publishing student, in case my future employers will ever stumble upon this article, but I have no idea why we are so hungry for crime and thrillers, now more than ever. And please note, it certainly did not start with Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train. That’s the only mention of that title here, pinkie promise.
Anyhow, how did I fall into reading crime fiction? I’ve never been much of a crime reader – too gory and overly descriptive of especially the sexual crimes. No no, not for me. Also, it is all so predictable! Or that’s what I thought.
The series that got me all crazy, looking for the next great thing (still haven’t found it, suggestions welcome) was Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy. I mean, Lisbeth Salander is such a character! It’s well written, it’s not the least predictable, and although there is quite a number of sexual crimes, it’s all dealt with in the same way as financial fraud crimes – Larsson does not revel in describing them in the most possible detail, and then just mentioning the ‘boring ordinary crimes’ afterwards.
Being extremely cautious after reading Millennium, I didn’t want to fall prey into some random crime series written by ten different people with a pseudonym. Although I did fall for a married couple writing under a pseudonym – Lars Kepler. I binge read all of the available books (back at the beginning of 2016), and found myself in the same place as before. Next I tried Jo Nesbo. Definitely not for me. Hole is insufferable. Ugh. Next.
Watching BookTube like it’s my full time job, there was a month when You by Caroline Kepnes made its rounds. I read it, thought it was okay, and forgot about it.
Recently, I was forced (in a friendly way) by a friend (hence friendly) to read Ten Little Niggers by Agatha Christie. You could call it going back to the good old crimes. I loved it! It is certainly nothing like Millennium, but then again, that’s like comparing apples and oranges, as they say. Christie is the queen of crime, obviously. Stieg Larsson is the master of plots. If you haven’t yet, read both.
Oh, and before I go silent for another week, here is a little life tip from me – do not, I repeat, do not read the ‘fourth Millennium book’ by David Lagercrantz. You’re welcome. Seriously though, it’s horrible. It’s so bad. Spare yourself.
Have any crime fiction recs? Shoot!
(Ha! New goal – put at least one pun in every post)