Michael Bhaskar’s life of crime

Michael Bhaskar writes on the Picador blog: "As someone new to crime I have been by turns shocked, amused, gripped, repelled, absorbed and scared witless. Oh, and loved every minute of it. What is it about murders most horrid, alkie loner detectives and and the police procedural that so appeals?"
Michael wonders why crime fiction appeals "even as it shocks". Torture, blood – since the days of Agatha Christie, the genre has become more hard-core- "the attraction lies in something about crime that sucks in the twisted, depraved, Darwinian and reptilian soul buried deep beneath the fragile veneer of conscience and civilisation. Either that or we just like a good story with a bit of gore. Hmm. This calls for an investigation into the darkest recesses of the human mind…"
I think there probably was quite a bit of explicit violence going on contemporaneously with Christie, and not just on the other side of the Atlantic, but putting that to one side, I responded that everyone has their own reasons for liking crime fiction, which is is so immensely varied a genre (some of it can hardly be defined as genre, eg Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale or Stef Penny's The Tenderness of Wolves) that it can encompass all kinds of reader.
For my part, I like writers like Michael Connelly and many others, who present the modern-day cowboy story – the loner who sticks to his or her principles in an uncertain or unsympathetic world.
Many crime fiction novels are allegories of human nature (eg The Sinner by Petra Hammelsfahr – a very dark journey into one woman's troubled psyche and repressed memories), and in other ways they provide us with inspiration to continue with our sometimes grey, routine lives (eg Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill, a lovely example of the uncrushable human spirit in the awful privations and brainwashing of 1970s Laos – very funny indeed, to boot).
Also, I find, as I get older, having a plot structure is easier for the fading powers of concentration and memory. 

One thought on “Michael Bhaskar’s life of crime

  1. Hmmmm…I like the fact that there’s a combination of plot and character. Much of the ‘literary’ fiction I read in my younger days was good for characters but lacking on the plot front and I realise I like a good yarn as well as interesting people. I know other genre fiction probably does this too but romance is far too girly for me, fantasy just bores me senseless (I’m far too practical I think)…I don’t mind some sci/fi actually but it tends to get bogged down in the details a bit too much.
    And like you I also like the crime fiction that tells bigger stories than just whodunnit…Like the Omar Yussef series that I’ve just read the second book of…It’s a perspective on the Middle East that you don’t get in the news nor in the very serious political books that I’ve read about the region.

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