I've just read an interesting article in The University Daily Kansan, the student voice of the University of Kansas, which was brought to me in the UK courtesy of the Book2Book web site. It asked the question why are so many people fascinated with the crime/mystery genre?

In the “Library Journal” Random House declared mysteries their most popular audio books. And, claims the article, the ever-steady demand for the genre seems odd, given that most mystery novels concern what few people want to think about - death.

So why do so many people enjoy reading crime novels? I know from my own reading experience and my reader feedback that what people like is a puzzle to solve, a mystery to pit their wits against, a thrill, lots of action and the psychology of characters. In fiction justice is served and the results neatly tied up, not like in real-life and perhaps that's why people like reading crime novels. It's certainly one of the reasons I like writing them, but by far not the only one.

What do you think?

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Nobody else was doing it. I loved the culture of the period. I liked to read historical novels and books about faraway places. I had already done some of the research.
Funny -- but seriously, Jon, how can you identify with the killer if the identity is a secret until the end?
This does, however, explain the success of caper novels and of the picaresque hero.
Yes, I think that's right. Funny though, I don't get around to paying serious attention to the killer (beyond identity and motive) until pretty late in the novel -- usually when the protagonist confronts him. At that point it does become important to get some depth for the character. Violence should be believable. And it can be said that the case of the murderer argues strongly for guarding against tendencies that may lie dormant in all men.
I don't suppress my homicial tendencies....

I write short stories with them.



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