Is Crime Fiction Deviating from Detective Novels?

Best-selling book Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn was a huge success last year. The book itself details a complex and intriguing husband-and-wife relationship between Nick and Amy Dunne. The book has since been praised as one of the best crime fiction novels of 2014, despite the lack of police procedure in the book.

That being said, police procedure isn’t always required in crime fiction novels. All writers promote and encourage research in their writing – with advice such as “write what you know” being a common mantra when it comes to research for a novel. So with the genre shifting to that of supposed “true crime fiction”, is this allowing new forms of loopholes for research?

I think that the shift is because of the popularity of police procedural fiction at the moment. With that comes the task of creating a credible, realistic detective for a story that steers clear of all the genre clichés. So by exploring “true crime fiction” through the eyes of the public, there are greater possibilities for new and exciting takes on the genre – with less stress on writers to “stand out”.

So is the change reflective of writers refusing to do research? Unlikely. With crime fiction being such a popular topic for today’s readers, it’s a new way for new writers to stand out in such a competitive genre.

Liam

P.S. This post is a little attempt to include more journalistic articles on the blog, as well as showing a few more pieces of my creative work. What do you think? If you liked it or not, comment in the box below!

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8 thoughts on “Is Crime Fiction Deviating from Detective Novels?

  1. Thank you for your awesome insight!
    I personally think the evolution of the genre is quite fascinating, and has definitely made it more accessible to a lot of people (while perhaps pissing off the purists).

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    • Thank you! I’m glad you liked the post, and thanks for commenting!

      I think that’s true. Police procedure and law can be quite complicated to understand when it’s used in crime fiction!

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  2. Interesting post! I used to love Enid Blyton books (Famous Five, Secret Seven and Five Find Outters) as well as Nancy Drew books and the Babysitter Club Detective spin off books when I was younger, but as I got older I stopped reading anything mystery, crime or detective. I have slowly gotten back into it but I think I prefer detective/police ones! I’m enjoying the Robert Galbraith books, as well as the Tana French Dublin Murder Squad series, loved Stephen King’s Mr Mercedes last year and looking forward to the new one this year and I really like the Rivers of London series (which has an urban fantasy twist on the genre). But there is definitely a shift towards more of a true crime stories than classic detective novels. I did enjoy Gone Girl but I think I need to warm up to this all a bit more, especially since I’ve only gotten back into liking the type of stories I enjoyed as a child

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    • Thanks for such an interesting comment! I think it is intriguing how police detectives in fiction are shifting towards private detectives and characters who have little legal knowledge (but just do it for justice instead).

      I think I’m definitely steering towards those sorts of crime fiction novels, though – but I don’t know why!

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  3. Wonderful post and great insights. It’s an exciting time to be writing. There is so much that can be called crime fiction, thrillers, police procedural, adventures, comedy capers. A host of characters steps into place with heroes and anti-heteros. The are film documentary journalists, M.E.s, detectives, private investigators, erotic dancers, all solving crimes. Personally, I becoming a big fan of the anti-hero in regional Florida wacko crime fiction. Serge and Coleman in Tim Dorsey’s work, Ike in Tim Baker’s, Skink in Carl Hiaasen’s . A promise that things will never be boring. 🙂

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    • Thanks so much for following and commenting! I agree! I think these variations allow writers to create characters that would normally have the same investigative skills as a police officer, but they also allow for intriguing new insights and creativity as to how they would investigate the crime differently to that of an officer…

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  4. I think the genre is definitely evolving, but then again it has already evolved so much! It is not often anymore that we get something like Sherlock Holmes in detective fiction- with the brilliant detective who is so far above the readers and who we just watch solve the case and pull everything together for us. I think modern readers are drawn more towards protags we can work with- we can feel like we’re solving the case with them rather than just spectating. That might also in part account for the lack of police work in newer novels- a more amateur protag is easier for widespread readers to relate to. We get to experience the suspense and confusion and success with the characters that way, which I think is more appealing to modern readers than the earlier models. (I actually wrote a paper on the evolving relationship of Watson and Sherlock in modern adaptations about this!)

    I definitely think your point about needing to stand out is valid too. In order to get noticed in such a huge genre you gotta break conventions a bit (:

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    • Thanks for your interesting comment! So I guess it’s more empathy then? Something aside from the main investigation that readers can relate to in the protagonist? I know TV shows do this a lot – by making the character 3D they can create empathy and I guess that helps readers to feel as though they are solving the case with them!

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