What’s Become of Crime Fiction?

Long time readers will perhaps recall my fondness for crime novels, police procedurals, and the like. I have written previously here about my enjoyment of Laurence Gough, Joe Nesbo, P.D. James, and others.  It is a type of fiction that has changed over the years, as both society and technology have changed, and yet the genre continues to be maligned and treated as an underclass in some quarters.

Over at Crime Reads they got together this year’s Edgar Awards nominees and asked them how the genre has changed and what they see for the future of the crime novel.  The article is full of interesting material, but I was struck by a few snatches of conversation.  For example, Lisa Black half complained that “books now need to be pictured as blockbuster movies with constant action.” This linked well with Pete Hautman’s assertion that

“today’s readers are looking for a more immersive experience, and authors are putting more effort into backstory and world-building to accommodate that desire. It is not enough anymore to build a story on a puzzle and a personality.

I agree with Jacqueline Winspear:

“I think there’s more and more mystery fiction being written that … could equally be described as powerful novels covering the political, environmental and social issues of today.”

Joe Nesbo’s novels are a perfect illustration, and confirm Dianne Freeman’s claim that:

“The truth is you can’t write crime fiction without examining the human condition and the society of a place or time. If a writer doesn’t understand the very elements that led someone to desperation, to the ultimate bad choice of taking another life, he can never write a convincing antagonist. Villains are not just bad people, they’re often in an untenable situation and see no other way out.”

If you have the slightest interest in this kind of literature, this article will be of value as a worthwhile read.

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