Most of us don’t commit crimes, yet we love to read about them. Week to week, we see more thriller and crime fiction novels topping the charts than any other genre. Why is it that we have a natural inclination towards these gory, suspenseful books? Here are a few theories:
The structure of crime is incredibly satisfying:
The structure of your typical crime novel likely follows the classic formula of introduction, climax, and resolution. This narrative structure pretty much guarantees satisfaction, leaving you feeling like all loose ends have been neatly tied up with nothing else left to worry about. The structure can mimic a literal roller-coaster ride, with a steep and gradual ascent, followed by the speedy plummet back down. It’s exhilarating and conclusive all at once.
People love to problem-solve:
The human condition is plagued with uncertainty, and we are constantly searching for answers to life’s many questions. Unfortunately, these answers seldom present themselves, yet it is in our inherent nature to stubbornly and persistently continue to search – and that’s why we turn to books. Crime fiction is a genre that puts puzzle-solving at the forefront, encouraging the reader to find the hidden clues and meanings sprinkled throughout the story. Although we may not find the answers we seek in our everyday lives, we will always find answers to the questions in our crime novels!
Crime restores our faith in mankind:
Unfortunately, we live in a world where the bad guy seems to come out on top a lot of the time. There are injustices everywhere we turn, and it can be very emotionally draining to witness these horrible stories and headlines every time we turn on the TV, pick up our phone, or read a newspaper. A lot of people turn to crime fiction not because bad things never happen in these novels, but because the bad people are always punished. These novels are based on a principle of justice – of protecting the innocent, and punishing the wicked – something that doesn’t always happen.
Crime novels help us to better understand ourselves and the world we live in:
Crime fiction, whilst precisely that – fiction – taps into the realm of possibility. Most things that happen in crime fiction plots are events that occur in real life – murder, corruption, deceit, and betrayal. As such, these novels allow us to unpack and understand the horrible things that happen in the real world from a position of safety. The realm of fiction, although inspired by real life, protects us and acts as a safety net, allowing us to wrestle with and better understand the pressing issues of our time, and the complex age that we live in.
Why do you love to read crime? We would love to hear from you!