What is it about the Crime/Mystery Genre?

Why do so many people read crime/mystery fiction? Why do so many watch crime/mystery creations? Think contemporary cozies, historical ones, true crime, CSI spinoffs, law and order procedurals, etc. I’m not complaining. I love it, but one side of me is mystified. Why the interest?

I’d say the number of crime/mystery novels published annually is second only to that of romance novels. Why are crime/mystery stories such a big part of our current cultural milieu? People must get something out of the genre. Of course, there’s the voyeur element. “Look, he’s bloodier than buffalo guts.” “Hey, her head’s half there. That incision looks like shark teeth.” 

I know why I like writing crime fiction. I enjoy the push to tell a tale, to put plot first and prose style second. Currently, I don’t enjoy writing magical realism or literary fiction. See my blog on deserting James Joyce and going to the dark side.

I’m not a psychologist or mind reader. However, I’m going to take a stab at answering why people find murder mysteries so fascinating. Violent unexpected death is horrendous. People cannot or do not want to face it directly. One way of handling murder, one way of coming to terms with the worst of all human crimes, is to watch someone solve it. “Look, they caught the bastard.”

Perhaps crime fiction is soothing. It conquers evil, and somehow puts the world in a positive light. Good guys win, bad guys go to jail. On the flip side, I could be barking up the wrong tree. Maybe people just want blood and guts.

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