Wednesday, 3 April 2013

The Problem With Crime Novels

So, I'm currently reading Sharp Objects, the debut novel of Gillian Flynn, who wrote the smash hit Gone Girl. I've been thinking quite a lot recently about crime novels, since I'm attempting to write one, because I actually don't read very many of them. I'm not a huge fan of them, although I watch quite a lot of crime dramas on the TV. I've been trying to nail down exactly what it is about crime novels that I don't really like, and I think I've finally done it.

You see, I like to guess who the murderer is. I don't really think about it, my brain just suddenly taps me on the shoulder and goes "it's that character." I know who I think the murderer is in Sharp Objects, I'm utterly convinced of his/her guilt, even though I'm not even halfway through yet.

If I'm right, I'll be annoyed because the writer made it too obvious.

If I'm wrong, I'll be annoyed because it was so obviously someone else all along that the whole thing is very unsatisfying and the reveal ends up ruining the book.

Regardless of what happens, the writer can't win. I'll never be completely happy about a crime novel, because I'll never be happy with the revelation of the villain. Now, I'm sure you can point me towards hundreds of books where you know who the villain is all along and it's not a whodunnit so it doesn't matter, but quite frankly, those books sound kind of dull to me. The intrigue is in the mystery. I am intrigued by Sharp Objects and dying to find out who the murderer is. Even though I know I won't be happy about it.


  1. You know what, I think I can relate to some of that! I'm not too disappointed when the culprit turns out to be someone I completely overlooked (I actually like being surprised), but I do always start predicting and guessing as soon as I'm introduced to a new character. I can't not think about it.

    Funnily enough, Gone Girl is up for me soon actually...

    1. I think my favourite outcome is when it's someone I suspected straightaway and then came to dismiss or forget about. I finished Sharp Objects and was right about who the killer was, but I'm reading Flynn's other book - Dark Places - at the moment and I haven't got a clue what to think, which is great!

      I hope you enjoy it. I was kind of on the fence about it - didn't like the first half, loved the second half, so it just about evened out. I guess I liked it enough to buy two other books written by her, so it can't have been too bad!