“Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “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. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Why Women Read Crime Fiction

I got a press release during the week - I don’t think it’s fair to mention the publisher, nor the writer it was plugging - that offered the following reasons as to why women are hooked on crime fiction:
1. Our relationship with the prospect of danger; from a young age women are primed to expect fear.

2. Escapism; pure enjoyment.

3. Anti-romance.

4. Possibility of learning survival tips to use if we’re kidnapped.
  All three regular readers of CAP might want to believe that I inserted # 4 just to make sure they were paying attention, but I’m afraid not: somebody, somewhere, believes women are so thick - or perhaps just the ones that read crime fiction? - that they read crime novels for survival advice.
  As for the other reasons: aren’t men primed from an early age to expect fear? Don’t they read for escapism and enjoyment? Aren’t men - historically, fatally - anti-romance?
  Honestly, folks, some days you wonder why you do it …

21 comments:

Naomi Johnson said...

No one wanted to opine that there's some damned good reading in the genre?

Paul D. Brazill said...

Well, for number 4 I'm sure they watch McGyver...

Adrian McKinty said...

Paul

Good call on MacGyver although on that Simpsons episode where he guested he couldnt even escape from Patty and Selma's house...

Dec

I think they read crime fiction to find what clothes the murder victim was wearning and thus avoid...

seana said...

I'm pretty sure that most women read crime fiction in order to figure out where the criminal went wrong and thus get away with the crimes themselves undetected.

Don't know that many women criminals? Exactly my point.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Women just plain read more. How many men belong to book groups for instance? When men read it tends to be non-fiction.

AnswerGirl said...

Oh, come on. I read crime fiction in an effort to figure out whether my suitors will turn out to be serial killers. Doesn't everyone?

This could explain why I'm single . . .

Katherine Tomlinson said...

Perhaps a lot of women accidentally wander into the crime section while looking for the latest Nora Roberts novel.

seana said...

AnswerGirl--single, but alive!

adrian mckinty said...

AnswerGirl is probably one of those men pretending to be a woman so they can befriend other women and lure them to their deaths. And I'll bet she got that and other evil ideas from crime fiction. Thats why men and women read crime fiction: to perfect their technique.

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

"The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo" is all the rage with female readers from what I hear. My wife will be reading it, and I'll surely be asking lots of questions when she's done. Crime fiction is the absolute last genre that she would normally read.

Peter Rozovsky said...

Naomi, your wise comment reminds me of all the dreary explanations trotted out when editors demanded stories on why Nordic crime fiction was so popular. No one except a few bloggers said the reason might be that there are some good Nordic crime writers.

Hmm, I just got an idea for a crime novel. Its Swedish title is Kvinnan Som Hatar Stieg Larsson. Unfortunately this is untranslatable into English.
==========================
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
http://www.detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

Becky said...

I read " crime fiction because it is great entertainment. In fact just finished reading "Rogues, Riches and Retribution," by Harry Taylor, and just loved how the story left me with the question – ‘Who did it?’.

Declan Burke said...

Pattinase - I can't speak for other men, ma'am, but I don't belong to a book club because I can't afford to waste time reading bullshit books, and particularly those chosen by other people.

As for men reading mostly non-fiction: according to the press release, the audience for crime fiction is 60% female. Which suggests that men account for 40%.

As to why women read crime fiction? Good taste, I'd say ...

Cheers, Dec

Uriah Robinson said...

Women read crime fiction because there is so much football on the television. I was told to write that by my wife, who does not read crime fiction apart from Tony Hillerman, but asks every day when the World Cup will be over!
I dare not mention the Tri-Nations Rugby will be on soon as I can't run away very quickly at the moment.

Donna said...

What a lot of shite. I get all MY survival tips from reading knitting patterns. I only read crime fiction because nobody's written a book about a talking armadillo that arrives on earth in a spaceship and falls in love with a brillo pad.

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

I can picture lit agents, or more likely, their half-wittted, snotty, "screeners", scouring the slush for crime now, instead of YA or MG. Just sayin'.

Dana King said...

I understand about women having a different perspective on danger than men. The amount of personal danger I might face at 6'1", 245 pounds (185 cm and 111 kg for our metric friends) is substantially less than what a small woman has to worry about. I can see where they might want to understand a little more about some of these things, on the premise it's easier to fear what you don't understand.

Still, I'm appalled by the tastes shown by many of these women, and how much of what they read involves serial killers and borderline torture porn.

BVLawson said...

I think anyone who tries to speak on behalf of "all women" is being presumptuous, contemptuous or erroneous (note you can't have those words without "o u's"). My mother reads mysteries because she loves puzzles. I read crime fiction because I love good stories and great writing. When I sneak peaks at the men at my gym (not that way!) and what they're reading on the ellipticals and bicycles, it's almost always crime fiction, mostly thrillers. Perhaps there are as many reasons for reading crime fiction as there are, well, readers?

Peter Rozovsky said...

I dare not mention the Tri-Nations Rugby will be on soon as I can't run away very quickly at the moment.

But you could use your crutches a defensive weapon.

Declan Burke said...

"I only read crime fiction because nobody's written a book about a talking armadillo that arrives on earth in a spaceship and falls in love with a brillo pad."

Erm, with all due respect, Donna, there's only one writer out there who's going to do that one justice. We wait with bated breath ...

Cheers, Dec

Timothy said...

I was under the impression women read a lot of parenting advice books! Obviously I'm living in another era altogether!!