Books, Essay

The World of Crime Fiction

In Italy, people call a story that consist of detectives or crimes giallo, for the word yellow. The reason is that since 1930s mostly crime fiction books had yellow covers. The earliest known crime fiction book is over twenty pages and is written by Danish author Steen Steensen Blicher and published in 1829. It is called The Rector of Veilbye and is supposedly based on a true murder case from 1626 in Vejlby, Denmark. The story is in the form of diary entries by a character named Erik Sorensen whose focus is on a trial about an unexplained disappearance of a farm labourer and after fifteen years the bones are unearthed.

The evolution and popularity of the genre increased in late nineteenth century in UK and USA, offering cheap paperbacks and mass producing them. Author like Arthur Conan Doyle made a huge contribution in the development of this literary genre for the famous detective Sherlock Holmes.

If we have to categorise crime fiction genre, we must do it in two parts as follows:

  • Whodunit
  • Locked room mystery

Now, the subgenre whodunit is the most common form of the this fictional category. It features a plot driven story in which a reader is supplied with clues to identify the executioner or the commuter of crime before the solution is revealed in the end. The best examples are Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone, Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, Umberto Eco The Name of the Rose and Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places. The whodunit is vast and is written in many ways. Spy novels, legal thrillers, police procedurals, and psychological suspenses are some ways.

The Locked Room Mysteries is another kind of whodunit but with a special condition in between that is the crime is committed under an impossible circumstance which happens to be that no intruder could have tempered as in entered or left what is now called the crime scene. Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, and Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Sign of Four.

Crime Fiction is a huge category in itself under the fiction and is a widely read genre. We all might not be having thrilling jobs as those detectives do, most of us don’t get to carry flashy badges and nor we carry those Beretta’s and Glocks but we do like to be thrilled in our beds, practice our own deducing abilities and feel a bit accomplished if we solve the written mystery that we are holding in our hands before it is supposed to be.


10 thoughts on “The World of Crime Fiction”

  1. Then there’s the “Whydunnit,” like Ruth Rendell’s “A Judgement in Stone,” in which you know who did the crime, what she did and how she did it–but you have to read the whole thing to find out why. One of the greatest mysteries ever written.


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