Crime writers – the best criminals?

09 +00002012-11-26T12:41:42+00:0030 2012 § 2 Comments

If, with William Golding, you see the reality of human vice behind a civilised veneer, then you might be willing to consider that there is something of the criminal in all of us.  Yesterday, I wrote of Margaret Yorke, who was a diligent researcher for her novels, and it occurred to me that there is amongst the body of crime writers a fine skill set for the execution of the perfect crime.  We devote time and effort to convince our readers and ponder with microscopic care the ways by which our character/s will do the deed and cover the traces.  Put some of us together and we should be a formidable force for naughtiness.  Are we criminals manqués?

Some of the best crime fiction does present the fine line between crook and cop and demonstrate that there is not a lot to choose between them.  Perhaps we are fascinated by the depiction of what is in fact our own potential for doing wrong.  Do we then go on to create a parallel universe in which we vicariously enjoy being very wicked?

I’m beginning to feel quite uncomfortable.  It’s all very well holding the mirror up to nature, but when the face in the mirror is my own…

§ 2 Responses to Crime writers – the best criminals?

  • Christina – You raise an interesting question! I wonder indeed whether for some crime writers, creating mayhem on the page is away of exorcising those demons. Ian Rankin has said that’s the way it works for him. Don’t know if it’s true for others. And you’re right; there are several very well-written novels that address the question of how much difference there really is between those who commit crime and those who investigate it. Sometimes as you say there’s not much. Most definitely reading crime fiction and writing it teaches one that just about anyone could kill under the right circumstance. A sobering thought, actually…

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