The popularity of Crime Fiction might wax and wane but at the end of the day, it still remains one of the most popular genres. Of course one might argue the popularity of a genre based on revenue or the number of books published but when it comes down to good old fashion sentiment Crime Fiction and particularly Thrillers takes some beating.
Some of the best characters in crime fiction become global icons. Who doesn’t know Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter? But what is it about the genre that has us chaffing at the bit as we search for the next big read. It’s true to say that the best-known characters in crime fiction are larger-than-life, Alex Cross, the protagonist of a series of novels that begin with Along Came A Spider being a fine example, but more than this they represent the power of enigma and herein resides the secret of the genres enduring appeal.
Enigmas are paradoxes, conundrums, mysteries and as humans and readers, we have an inherent need for answers that is only matched by our need for justice. Add to this is our relentless need for resolution and our psyche demands that good triumphs over evil, yet we live in a world that is sadly at odds with our expectations. Open the daily paper or browse online news sources and we are often overwhelmed by world events. From terrorists mowing innocent people down in the streets of London to the posturing of megalomaniacs who seem to have us on the verge of nuclear war most of us feel that events are beyond our control.
Taking a step away from reality and immersing ourselves in crime fiction often provides us with the resolution we might otherwise lack. It’s a genre where evil is punished, and good mostly triumphs. But is there a formula for crime fiction that is universally appealing?
The short answer is no! Yes, there are any number of Crime and Thriller fiction authors willing to share the secret of their success for something in return. Each genre has its own codes and conventions, but that does not mean there is a formula. Of course one could widen the debate but when it comes to crime fiction, thrillers and their allied subgenres the most important thing to a reader is the protagonist. It’s their victory that reminds us that there is hope and that there are people out there, no matter how flawed, who will make a stand. Through them, we learn about the darker aspects of life from the comfort and security of our armchairs, whilst getting to experience the adrenaline rush and wave of emotions that come with it.
So perhaps at the end of the day, we are all fun loving criminals in search of a good read!