Rural crime fiction is all the rage at the moment, with small-town, country crime novels becoming just as (if not more) popular than thrillers set in the grime and grit of the city. But why are writers and readers alike so drawn to these outback settings? What makes rural crime fiction so enticing?
Setting is everything:
Never underestimate the importance of a good setting. Much like plot and characters, the setting of a story has the power to either make or break a novel. Rural settings often add to the novel’s suspense in a way that urban landscapes cannot. Bodies can be hidden in dense bush or large bodies of water. Secrets can be kept for much longer, and cause far more damage. Is there anything scarier than a dark country lane? And the outback can be a hostile environment with searing heat, floods, drought and bush fires, all helping create atmosphere and build tension.
Tight-knit communities and broken trust:
Most crime novels are driven by the quest to find out ‘who did it.’ Each of us view crime novels much like we do puzzles – a problem to be solved – and it usually starts with us questioning the motives of each and every character. Compared to a bustling metropolis, cosy rural communities offer a far more intimate setting and usually, a small cast of characters, a few eccentrics included. Apart from blow-ins, you know everyone and there is a tight sense of community and connectedness. This makes it all the more devastating when tragedy strikes, resulting in a more emotional reading experience. Rural crime novels don’t only centre on the solving of a crime – they deal with the break-down of an entire community, the devastation of betrayal, and the loss of trust. It’s an emotional roller-coaster, and makes the story all the more intense and satisfying.
Novelty and escapism:
Many of us who read crime fiction have never actually known what it is like to grow up in a small town. In this way, rural crime fiction serves not only as a suspenseful and thrilling read, but also as a glimpse into a life-style that is otherwise not easily accessible. Rural thrillers introduce us to farm life, to awesome landscapes, quaint villages and local pubs, to local politics, history, gossip and tightly held secrets.
Keen to read some cracking rural crime fiction? Check out our recommended reading list!