Murder is a messy business. The motivations behind committing murder can be complicated. The murder weapon needs to be considered, a pistol perhaps? Or, the ubiquitous blunt instrument? The location and the timing of the murder need to be carefully planned. Witnesses are to be avoided. An alibi has to be constructed. Then, of course, the question of what to do with the body must be answered.
If murder is so difficult, why is it so fascinating?
Crime fiction is the world’s largest genre. It’s without doubt the most popular genre with Blue Mountains City Library users. One of the reasons for this is that crime fiction writers have so successfully capitalised on the appeal factors of reading: character; language; setting; and story. Many crime fiction readers are very familiar with these appeal factors: the numerous characters from cerebral sleuths who can solve a crime in their living room over a cup of tea (Edgar Allan Poe or Arthur Conan Doyle for instance) to weapon wielding heroes who track down villains on foot in darkened alleyways (James M Cain, Raymond Chandler, Peter Corris, Dashiell Hammett); the language of the cultured conversations from the novels of the genre’s Golden Age between World Wars I and II (Margery Allingham, Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh or Dorothy L Sayers) to the hard-hitting terminology of forensic procedurals (Patricia Cornwell, Gabrielle Lord, Kathy Reichs or Australian Kathryn Fox) and legal procedurals (Sydney Bauer, John Grisham, Scott Turow); the settings that range from Australian towns and cities (Shane Maloney, Peter Temple, Arthur Upfield) to glamorous locations around the world (Ian Rankin, Ian Fleming, Patricia Highsmith); and the diversity of detective stories from the classic locked room (John Dickson Carr, Fergus Hume) to modern day military thrillers (Tom Clancy, Matthew Reilly). Crime fiction also covers the continuum of stories that focus on solving the crime (G K Chesterton, P D James, Ellis Peters) to works that explicitly detail criminal acts (James Ellroy, Thomas Harris, Mo Hayder). There is, quite simply, a dead body for every reader.
And in the 634s on the Adult Non-Fiction shelves you’ll find enough True Crime to chill you to the bone. Two recent crime reads of mine are So Brilliantly Clever and The Search for Anne Perry by Joanne Drayton by Peter Graham and both about the brutal, premeditated murder of Honorah Parker in 1954 in a lonely park by her 16-year-old daughter Pauline and Pauline’s 15-year-old friend Juliet Hulme in the early 1950s in Christchurch, New Zealand. The girls spent a few years in prison each before being released under new names. Pauline Parker stayed in NZ for a number of years, becoming a Librarian, before moving to the UK where she now lives a reclusive life in the Shetlands. Juliet Hulme, taking her step-father’s surname, became popular historical fiction author, Anne Perry, who has also chosen Scotland as her home. She’s an extremely popular author among Blue Mountains City Library readers – her books go backwards and forwards over our circulation desks all the time!
So, this April read a work of crime fiction. If you are already familiar with the genre try a sub-genre or author you have not read before. If you are new to crime fiction then close your windows, lock your doors and curl up in bed with a killer…
What are your favourite crime related reads? Any films, TV series or games? Did you enjoy the light-hearted, clever Miss Phrynne Fisher series, or is the more gritty Underbelly series more up your alley? What are the blogs, twitter streams or magazines you read for #crimeread? Any apps which form part of your #crimeread environment?
There will be a live twitter discussion on Tuesday 30 April starting at 8pm Australian Eastern Standard Time. Use the tags #crimeread and #rwpchat as you discuss the reading, watching playing that is your experience of #crimeread, so others can join in the conversation too.