Crime novels tend to vary. Not every other book is the same. Even if the story has some uncanny similarities to another book, the feel of it as a whole would be quite different. Every author has their own signature, of course, and they stamp down their own unique style on every piece of work they pen down. Even if we try to prevent it, a little bit of ourselves still bleed into our work. This makes any given author distinguishable from the next one.
However, crime novels vary in more ways than from author to author. Most authors try to push themselves by trying something different. It is part of the art of writing. Even I have played around with different themes and styles within the crime genre.
For instance, Jack Hanger was a crime thriller/ human drama with a strong focus on a fatherless generation which leads to a societal breakdown. Currently I’m busy with King of Sorrows, a crime romance novel that delves into the more sophisticated white collar part of the crime world. To me as the author, these two books are like night and day. The characters are lifetimes apart, from their behaviours down to their actions.
So I set about trying to find my signature in subject matter that had no comparison whatsoever. Soon enough I found the true reason crime authors are so distinguishable and how the different variations within the industry are tied together. The answer to this lies in the grit.
It’s an undeniable fact that all crime stories, novels, movies and television shows, are all linked with a moment of absolute and unequivocal grit. Whether it be a lonely woman killing a rapist who had escaped from prison, or a housewife murdering her husband in the middle of suburban civility. Whether it be the drug addict stealing to feed his habit, or the corporate CEO illegally claiming thousands in travellers cheques from the company. There will always be a moment when total madness creeps in, a point where the reader is offered a glimpse into the harsh reality that so often faces us in the media. This moment of grit in its truest form is usually the part where the readers are taken out of their comfort zones and forced to understand the reasoning behind the criminal and his crimes, and there we sign our book.