Friday, 25 February 2011

Crime - And Punishment

Today’s guest blogger Chris Nickson, author of our latest eCC eBook title, “The Broken Token”, which publishes today.

It’s a convention of crime fiction that the bad guy will be punished in the end. For a long time (at least under the American film code) it had to be that way, as evil could not be allowed to triumph. It is, if you think about it, the natural order for a crime novel anyway, as the hero will almost certainly be on the side of right. That means he has to come out on top. Even the hard boiled crime authors understood this, although they tried to hide it under a veneer of cynicism.

Over the last couple of decades, possibly longer, the convention has been questioned, and even flouted. Not just in caper books, where everything is done with a wink and a sly grin, but in more serious fiction. Writers have realised that justice is something that can arrive in many ways. This expands the possibilities and actually becomes far more realistic – as does the idea of justice not arriving at all (although that, in many ways, defeats the purpose of the crime novel).

But it’s always been that way, for as long as there have been criminals and those trying to catch them. I won’t give anything away about the climax of The Broken Token (after all, I want you to buy it and see what happens), but even historical crime novels can be dark and veer away from convention (or possibly not, just to keep you guessing).

In fact, if more historical crime did this it would be a good thing. The population wasn’t comprised solely of the gentry, with servants there solely as the extras. The ordinary working people and the middling classes were in the majority. Their lives might not have glittered so brightly, but they mattered. They lived and died, broke laws, enforced laws, and paid the price on both sides. The reality might lack glamour and have more dirt, but it comes in as many ways as justice. - Chris Nickson

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