Praise for Declan Burke: “Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

On The Essential Relevance Of Crime Fiction

Mack Lundy (right) was kind enough to drop by and blow smoke up my fundament re: a recent piece I wrote for Crime Always Pays. Quoth Mack:
“I believe that crime / mystery fiction can be a vehicle for presenting morality, ethics, good, evil, innocence, sacrifice, moreso than Literature with a capital L. I would like to know why you think crime / mystery fiction ‘is inarguably the most relevant and important fiction out there.’ Perhaps you could touch on it in a future post on Crime Always Pays. Your readers would be interested and it would stimulate interesting discussion.”
  Mack, bless his cotton socks, wildly overestimates (a) the number of CAP readers; (b) their ability to stimulate discussion, interesting or otherwise; and (c) the miniscule amount of reaction anything I might have to say might generate.
  Happily, his email coincided with a piece I wrote for the Sunday Independent last weekend, which touched on the importance and / or relevance of crime fiction, and why I believe that if journalism is the first draft of history, crime fiction is its second.
  Even though I don’t touch on this in the piece, I should probably add that crime fiction is the most important kind of fiction out there simply because it speaks to the greatest number of readers. If anyone doubts that, do the math.
  Anyhoos, on with the show …
How Crime Novels Reveal Truths About Our Dark Age

ARGUABLY the most seductive, and perhaps even compelling, aspect of contemporary crime fiction is its relevance. As with the best journalism, the best crime writing speaks to us of where we are now and how we are coping with the indignities that assault our notions of civilisation. Rape, for example, has been with us in fiction since THE ILIAD, although Homer tended to celebrate his triumphalist male protagonists and gloss over how a woman might feel about being subjected to such gross violation.
  It’s in the realms of modern crime fiction that you will find rape’s most authentic documentation …
  For the rest, clickety-click here