Tag Archive for: historical cozy

The Mystery of Crime Fiction

By Lynn McPherson

Have you ever wondered what draws a reader to crime fiction? Is there not enough crime in the real world that the human psyche longs for even more? Today, let’s explore the possibilities behind the love and longing for books that focus on the darker side of humankind. There are several sub-genres within the crime fiction family. I’ve chosen three of my personal favourites to discuss.

I love cozies. I read them. I write them. I have a mental note of books as long as Santa’s gift list of those I still have yet to read. I never seem to tire of them. The greatest part of cozies is getting to know the town and the characters that make each series unique. It’s like visiting your hometown or settling in to a comfy lounge chair to watch your favourite movie for the umpteenth time.  There is a familiarity that readers rely on and expect that cozies must deliver, if they are going to be successful. The protagonist must be likeable and the town must be where you’d love to spend time, as well as a recurring set of characters that draw the reader in, making them want to come back and visit with each new story. Comfort, escape, and a whodunit to challenge one’s intellect make it a no-brainer.
What about suspense or psychological thrillers? There is no known path. The reader must race through the pages to see if the character in jeopardy is going to be okay or achieve what they need to in order to get things back to normal—or at least, a semblance of order. When I read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, I had heart palpitations. I raced through each page, gripping the paperback novel like the outcome depended on it. There were moments I thought I couldn’t take it and would have to jump to the end—just to stop my anxious musings. But I knew there would be an end and that gave me the comfort and patience required to get there without cheating. There was great satisfaction with an ending that tied together all the most relevant details of the case. A perfect example of why they are so captivating to read.
Finally, let’s talk about police procedurals. These books have a professional detective in the police force who must follow the proper rules in order to solve the assigned case. This presents challenges that the cozy or amateur sleuth novels do not have to deal with, such as sticking to the law and proper procedure. You won’t see a detective sneaking around a suspect’s home to see what they uncover—that is, unless they have a proper warrant (I never like that part). However, they are granted access to crime scenes that a regular citizen is not given. The reader gets to walk in a police officer’s shoes and see what they see, with the tools and training given out by the department. We are given a glimpse into the mind of a police officer while we ride along like the proverbial fly on the wall. It’s fun to try and figure out if we make the same decisions and reach the same conclusions as the professional protagonist. It is an intellectual challenge and a journey into a life that most of us never get a change to experience.
With each category above, there is a different style and attraction that draws a reader in. However, the similarities cannot be denied—there is a puzzle to solve, a defined end, and a chance to live vicariously through the protagonist’s lens. Crime fiction allows a reader to escape into a dangerous story, path, or situation in which one would likely not experience in real life. By the end of the book, the reader can put it down, feeling satisfied that the story has come to completion. This, in itself, may be the best part of all.

Lynn McPherson has worked for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, ran a small business, and taught English across the globe. She has travelled the world solo where her daring spirit has led her to jump out of airplanes, dive with sharks, and learn she would never master a surfboard. She now channels her lifelong love of adventure and history into her writing, where she is free to go anywhere, anytime. Her cozy series has two books out: The Girls’ Weekend Murder and The Girls Whispered Murder.  

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