Crime Fiction

Crime Fiction – sub genres

The Cozy Mystery (Cozies) 

The storylines behind these mysteries are like detective crime novels, except for the fact that profanity, sex and violence are downplayed (or approached in a humorous manner). The community in which the investigation takes place tends to be very small, and the detective is an amateur (normally female). They are well-known within the community because of the position that they are in, and have a high level of education.

The detective has a police force insider, normally a close friend or family member, that provides them with intimate details of the investigation. They can openly pursue their questioning, as authorities normally dismiss them as gossips. The person who committed the crime is normally another member of the community, and doesn’t resist arrest when caught and explains in detail their methods and motive.

Locked Room Mystery

In this type of crime fiction, the crime is almost always murder and takes place under ‘impossible’ circumstances. An example of this is a dead body being found in a room, which appears to have been locked from the inside, leaving the murderer no way to get out. The protagonist, along with an assistant, goes through a process of collecting clues and solves the mystery using ingenuity and outstanding sleuth work. The author tries to provide enough evidence that the reader may be able to solve the mystery themselves, before the plot is revealed at the end of the story. 

Even though Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes is one of the most prolific detectives of the locked room genre, John Dickinson Carr’s novel The Hollow Man, has been described as one of the best stories ever. The book not only takes the reader through a winding journey on the road to discovering the truth, but also dedicates an entire chapter to giving writers tips for producing their own crime fiction novel. The story’s detective answers questions which explain how the murderer could possibly have deceived investigators. Another reason for the inclusion of this chapter, however, is for the author to lead his audience away from how this crime was committed so that the twist at the end is even more unexpected. 

Many children’s stories are based on the locked room, with a less gruesome crime than murder. Enid Blyton used this genre to help create a generation of crime-solving youngsters. There have also been many locked room genre series written for TV for both children, and adults, as well as novels that have been converted to films.

Hardboiled American Crime Fiction

This American version of the classic British crime fiction novel, was also known as noir fiction. Authors presented a new, more sinister side of an old character, the well-mannered gentile detective, by creating the tough-guy, private eye. The hardboiled detective almost always worked alone, and was normally between the ages of 35 and 45. His lifestyle matched his personality and was a mixture of excessive smoking and drinking, both caffeinated and alcoholic beverages. His heavy intoxication levels never affected his awareness of his surroundings, however, and his methods of solving crimes were often violent.

In many stories the hardboiled private investigator is a military veteran, or ex-cop, who always carries a gun. Regardless of the amount he gets paid for each case, he tends to remain poor. This might be because many of these detectives were prone to gambling and being involved in other shady activities. In the hardboiled genre, the protagonist’s feelings about the police varies, with some of them working alongside the authorities and others resenting their existence.

Psychological Thrillers

An overlap between the crime fiction and thriller genres, in addition to the regular plot of crime novels, these stories emphasize the criminal’s mental instability and the morbid pleasure that they may experience whenever they have committed a murder. Psychological thrillers became more popular as the genre developed and many writers began placing the focus on their characters instead of the plot, in the 1950s.

In the novels, the reader knows the criminal’s identity from the beginning of the story and would observe the relationship between prey and predator, with both detective and murderer in each role throughout the course of the novel. In many of these stories, the killer manages to evade capture and the detective spends the rest of their life tracking him. 

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