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September 15, 2012



Michael Connelly is a good example of an author who sells very well, writes on quite gruesome topics sometimes, yet is never gratiuitous or sensationalist. I wish more crime authors would take a leaf out of his book, I hate reading books that dwell on killing, death, torture, agony, post-mortem details, etc.

I think one answer to your question is that crime fiction appeals to people because it shows the effects on "normal" society and/or individuals of a terrible crisis of some kind. The interest is to some extent in the "puzzle" of the solution, but in modern crime fiction it is also on the adjustements, and what the crime reveals about past secrets, etc. Arnaldur Indridason is a good example of this type of writer. As a genre, this has the realism that is lacking in some others, eg SF or romance fiction.

No doubt there are lots of other reasons people like crime fiction, and these trashy slasher-type novels are popular it has to be said, but not with me!

Lexi Revellian

I don't like reading novels about murder, any more than I enjoy hearing about real cases in the media. I'm puzzled by plots that take something so miserable entailing a life sentence for the relatives, and aim to entertain. It's only the most stylized versions I can take, and then on the radio rather than in books: adaptations of Dorothy Sayers, or 1950s Paul Temple.

It's no accident that in the mystery I wrote, the only murder happens three years before the book's opening, and still traumatizes the character closest to it.


Great question. I was able to read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series fairly easily, but quite unable to see the movies. I can read newspaper reports on crime or violence but can't watch the same news on TV. For me it's not the escape of words, but more that the visual is too real, too acute to bear.

In my own crime reading and writing, I don't want the violence front of stage and I don't read crime writers who glorify violence in lavish set pieces. I am also reaching the stage where I am sick and tired of novels that begin with with a young and gorgeous female corpse - so my novel and the next two in the planning start with male corpses.

We can't avoid avoid human cruelty or run away from it, but as writers and consumers we can choose how we like to package it or have it packaged for us. Turns out, I like my cruelty cerebral and not sensory.

Thunderbolt Ebooks

I believe that human nature is such that we have an irresistible and almost hypnotic compulsion to see and read the very things that horrify us. Perhaps it is to learn more about our fears.

Fear can be both good and bad. Sometimes fear will cause you to freeze like a deer in the headlights, while at other times it will give you an adrenaline rush to survive a crisis event. It helps sell insurance, movies, security systems, books, etc.


Death by fire is not a nice way to go.
A woman in England "inadvertantly" left her hairdryer on the bed where her husband was "sleeping it off", the bed caught fire and hubby was burned to death. She said she draped a damp towel over the dryer and left the house. The hairdryer was still plugged in, but switched off. I thought, "Oh, a good murder plot" and tried burning paper with a hairdryer - no such luck.
Am I missing something here, as I am of the opinion she murdered her husband, but how did she set fire to the bed and fool the experts?

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