Wednesday, April 23, 2014

An Introduction To Crime Thriller Novels

By Eloise Hewitt

Crime is something that has always fascinated people. Indeed the sociologist Emile Durkheim believed that crime was a vital part of society as it helped to highlight the flaws of society. In recent times it is also something that people have wanted to read about, whether tracking real life criminals or their fictional counterparts. There are a wide array of crime thriller novels and it is worth thinking about what kind you would personally want to read.

There is some debate as to what was the first detective story. Many people believe the roots of the genre can be traced to Edgar Allen Poe with short stories such as the tell tale heart. While the Victorian Gothic genre may have been dark and feature crimes, murders and so forth this was the first type of story that focused on the detective.

Another example of the genre is the whodunit. In simple terms this is where a murder takes place and the detective has to track down the killer. Crucially they not only have to find them but they have to be able to prove that this person is the killer. Often the fun for the reader is checking the clues to see if they can be one step ahead of the detective.

There is also the classic noir genre. These detective novels are often about a wider conspiracy as opposed to a simple murder or set of murders. They tend to feature a world weary detective who has fallen on hard times and inevitably this case is their shot at redemption. While this is often associated with classic writers like Raymond Chandler there have been modern variations such as LA Confidential, a novel that seemed to embody a lot of the complexity and moral ambiguity that people love about the classic noir detective stories.

These stories contain a lot of the conventions we associate with the genre. They feature detectives speaking from a first person perspective, often providing witty asides to the reader as they look at the murky and morally dubious world around them. However while the detective may appear world weary there is often enough of a moral code that drives them.

Cynicism tends to be a strong part of this kind of work. However there are also more accessible works. Agatha Christie created engaging detective characters such as Miss Marple and Poirot. Unlike the noir protagonists these characters seemed more engaged with society. Despite investigating horrible murders these characters seemed to be able to maintain their dignity.

Over time the genre has had a number of twist and turns. As with any genre over time what appears to be tired can be revitalised by new voices adding their interpretation to classic stories. In recent times Scandinavian writers have become more popular. Just as the directors of French New Wave cinema interpreted cinema in their way so writers like Steig Larrson have presented their twist on world weary detectives and dark murders.

There are a lot of titles available online. Some are written by established authors. However with the rise of electronic book devices there are more opportunities to find works by undiscovered authors that are not signed with recognised publishing houses. It is also worth checking online for feedback from fellow crime fans to find the ideal title to suit your personal tastes.

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