Detecting Crime Fiction

[found on; by Maria Z/GD]

Sub-genres of  Crime Fiction:

“• Cozy / cosy

o Set in the 1920-1930’s of middle-class England.
o Graphic details of murder scenes are either downplayed or described humourously.
o Popular writers of this subgenre include Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers,
o ‘International cosies’ such as the African Ladies Detective series by Alexander McCall Smith, and the Vish Puri Mysteries by Tarquin Hall.


o ‘Hardboiled’ is most a reference to the detective’s nature of going through perilous situations and emerging the victor while solving a case, in comparison to other ‘half-boiled’ detectives who merely solve cases without facing much risk.
o Also refers to a boiled/tough use of graphic violence and unsentimental sex.
o Popular writers of this subgenre are Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, Walter Mosley, Nicholas Blincoe, Stella Duffy and more.


o Stories revolve around lawyers, their cases and the suspects, leading to courtroom drama.
o It is hard to run from clichés with this subgenre. Being equipped with thorough knowledge of the law may not be enough to write a killer legal crime story.
o Stories are highly-dependent on strong characters.
o Reading works like The Runaway Jury and Street Lawyer by the king of legal crime fiction, John Grisham, is a good way to observe how characters develop.

Police Procedural

o Stories of this subgenre have an inspector or detective who conducts investigations to find the perpetrator.
o These stories have highly-intricate plots supported largely by the connections between the main characters.
o Popular writers of this subgenre include Stephen Booth and Ian Rankin.
o Includes TV shows CSI (also Horror gennre) and many others.


The story is really about how two people (almost always men, often older guy/younger guy or straight guy/slightly off-kilter or comedy guy) relate in stressful situations.

The buddies are usually cops with some sort of secret shameful past, with the crime background keeping it exciting (and sellable).

Mismatched pairs are the norm, ‘about to retire’ another cliche, so try and be original. Perhaps two identical twins, separated at birth, who both sign up to become cops…

 Real life crime

Many ex criminals, some still in jail, have written up their exploits as more or less reliable memoirs. Or writers have produced gripping biograhies. Examples here include the many books about the Kray brothers in London’s East End; Razor Smith’s excellent autobiograhy ‘A few kind words and a loaded gun’.

These are made up but the truth is usually more horrible. Many great novels by Irving Welsh are in this general area, such as Trainspotting (and the sequel); Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs.

So fiction can be used to create false histories and made up real life dramas.

• Drug crime

Can be gangs, individuals, this is a hot topic and very popular, especially with TV and film. Often has a double crossing or three, stolen drugs, fake drugs, prostitution, assassins, international elements. Has to be true-to-life – which is easy as so many non-fiction books.

• Space crime

Another commercial genre, many SF novels have a large crime or whodunit angle, particularly cyberpunk, which is usually about computer hacking, brains, corporate crime, drug subcultures etc.”

For more tips on writing from, click here.

[found on]

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