In act, case, crime, fascination, fiction, heinous, issue, justice, Lawrence, reader, society, There, There's, writing on November 5, 2011 at 4:16 pm
There’s a fascination with the genre, and of course a fascination with exploring events that take place in what we call the real world,” Lawrence said.
“Crime writing is a reflection on current society and the crime and justice issues concerning the public. And it can become an opportunity to enter landscapes and places both exotic and desolate.”
The Ned Kelly award is at the door once again and this article about the prestigious competition makes me wonder about the distinction between fascination with true crime and fascination with crime fiction from the criminnal’s point of view.
Is there a fundamental difference between the two genres and if so, what is it?
The first one that springs to my mind is the distinction between vernaculars.
In many true crime books I have read, especially from a criminologist point of view, the author spares no punches.
It is clear from the start where the writer stands and the reader knows that there is no pity for the criminal.
Words like scumbag and society’s trash frequently occur when describing the person responsible for a major heinous crime.
In fiction crime on the other hand, sometimes, if not always, the roles are reversed.
In crime fiction books by Jim Thompson, James E. Cain, Deborah Moggach we find the criminal as the major character telling us his/her lifestory and that doesn’t always sit comfortably with the reader.
Why is that? Well, it takes nerves to want to identify with a criminal and most of us aren’t comfortable with that.
Better is to think of them as monsters just like most newspapers and media wants us to believe, who never stood a chance to be “respectable” citizens.
The true crime writer plays along with that.
Yes, they go out to discover the truth, but they are very careful to put their own disgust for the criminal and his/her heinous acts in the story.
A crime writer is very careful to do the opposite.
In a crime fiction story, the reader doesn’t always know (s)he will find a sense of justice at the end of it.
Sometimes, the criminal wins and the reader is left with that sense of defeat that it is so common in real life and that is exactly what puts most readers off. That sense of injustice.
There is where the difference between true crime and crime fiction rests.
True crime readers want to know that there is justice at the end of a crime. Crime fiction readers know that is not always the case.
  1. I find that most crime novels are reaffirmations of society’s virtues, as the criminal always gets his just deserts, one way or another. I’m thinking of Crime stories portrayed in the movies “Blow”, “Good Fellas”, “Casino”. Crime doesn’t prosper , is the virtue in these stories. Occasionally, there’s happy endings, but rarely does the criminal get away with it and live happily ever after, unless the criminal himself is unjustly accused.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: