The Solace of Crime Fiction

As I followed the Trump impeachment trial this past week, I felt fury. Fury at the way Trump incited a far-right white mob (shown above) to storm the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, fury at Trump’s Big Lie that the election was stolen from him, and fury that the U.S. Senate did not convict him despite his undeniable guilt — caught on video and in tweets — because most Republican members of that “august” body are gutlessly terrified of, or want to cater to, Trump’s base.

The trial also made me think that crime fiction is comforting in a way. I know that sounds strange given all the mayhem and pathologies in such novels, but at least the reader can count on seeing wrongdoers punished — either through the court system or vigilante justice. Not always, of course, but usually. A contrast to real life, where wealthy, powerful, Caucasian bad guys like Trump almost never get the punishment they deserve. So, the conclusions of most crime novels are wish-fulfillment that soothes our psyches a bit.

I don’t want to give spoilers, but we all know examples of novels that leave readers with a “crime didn’t ultimately pay” message — even if the punishment is sometimes rather delayed, as in Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo and Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. (Both of which are not crime, thriller, mystery, or detective fiction per se, but other kinds of fiction can of course have some of those elements.) Heck, it would be hard to sustain a successful series of crime novels if there were little or no consequences for the wrongdoing characters. It would just be too depressing for readers who get enough of that when following real-life news.

Yes, the offenders almost always eventually get their comeuppance in novels by the likes of Raymond Chandler, Lee Child, Agatha Christie, Wilkie Collins, Arthur Conan Doyle, Janet Evanovich, Sue Grafton, John Grisham, Dashiell Hammett, P.D. James, Stieg Larsson, Walter Mosley, Louise Penny, Dorothy L. Sayers, Lisa Scottoline, etc. — though often not before some good people get killed or badly hurt.

If you read crime fiction, do you find it somewhat comforting for the reason I mentioned?

My literary-trivia book is described and can be purchased here: Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time.

In addition to this weekly blog, I write the 2003-started/award-winning “Montclairvoyant” topical-humor column for Baristanet.com. The latest piece — which supports my town’s teachers in their reluctance to return to in-person instruction before being vaccinated — is here.

134 thoughts on “The Solace of Crime Fiction

  1. I think what I am trying to say is you’re completely right in saying crime fiction does perform not only an ‘idealistic ‘ function in the collective consciousness of the society but also, I think in addition, makes a slant metaphorical commentary on the state of affairs as it already exists. I am sometimes striken by how dark Agatha Christie is, inspite of her reputation as a somewhat ‘cosy-crime’ author

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  2. Agree! I read this very interesting paper somewhere very long ago ( whose details completely slip my mind at this moment)a sociological analysis , in which the rise of the independent PI in crime fiction during the late Victorian age ,like Sherlock Holmes vs the ineffectual figure of Inspector Lestrade for whom Holmes has nothing but disdain for, is seen in the background of Industrial Revolution and breakdown of public trust in the systems of law and order

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    • Thank you, quarantined_creepy! Several great points in your two comments! I can see how a lot of crime fiction is not only “escapist” but also directly or indirectly reflects and comments on societal matters. And, yes, the work of Agatha Christie and other “cozy” mystery writers isn’t always quite as “cozy” as they seem.

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      • I also like your appreciation for ‘escapism’ in literature. Many consider, ‘escapist’ fiction like traditional crime or fantasy or ghost stories etc, as a drawback, but I would like to think that the human mind cannot exist in conditions of Absolute Reality.

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    • Thank you, Mike! That kind of scenario can definitely be frustrating for readers wanting some justice.

      I wonder if John Grisham was kind of experimenting in that case, because the bad guys get some comeuppance in a few other Grisham novels I’ve read.

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  3. Dave in  Lee Child, Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle,  John Grisham,  Stieg Larsson, Walter Mosley and other Novels there are always an expectation and with the exception of Larsson ( sudden death). it is satisfactory or continued to the next one.
    But with Donald Trump ,he is still spreading his lying poisonous venom.  
    And now with the death of Rush I am so sorry that he escaped jail and made millions at the expense of others.  

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    • Thank you, bebe! It is indeed a pleasure to wait for the next novel by the living authors you mentioned. And sad to think of how many great books by Stieg Larsson went unwritten because of his untimely death. 😦

      Yes, like Trump, Rush Limbaugh escaped punishment with the help of being rich, powerful, and white. I recall Limbaugh being involved with illegal purchases of powerful drugs like Oxycontin — something that would have landed most poor, not-powerful people of color in jail. And you’re right that Trump is not going away quietly, even without the presidency and his beloved Twitter.

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      • Indeed Dave , this fascination over Rush and of course trump is mind boggling.
        We live in a republican neighborhood, I am open about being a liberal.
        My next door neighbor is a good Father, Husband and helpful.
        Used to tell me how when at work ( SW Bell) they had Rush on the radio wave and would laugh at his cruel jokes.

        Looking back during the Clinton Presidency, Chelsea was then just a little girl. That time day after day cruelty of Rush was unimaginable, he compared her looks with dogs with other ill spirited adjectives.

        Fast forward no matter what one thinks of the Clintons, they protected their little girl so that She is a wholesome, gorgeous Woman of today.

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  4. I liked reading James Ellroy since he’d been there re: his own mother being a murder victim. As far as comeuppance, I’d liked to believe eventually it occurs to all of us in some form or fashion for whatever reason we need it according to the universal cosmic order of things–dharma *sigh* Speaking of which– Geezaloo, I never thought I’d find a troll on your blog. Here’s a little lesson for him re: 2nd impeachment: Trump was still president on January 13, 2021 when those proceedings moved forward. In addition, he still believes he is president. Based on that convoluted logic alone I would very much agree that they impeach him over and over again until he comes to his senses and realizes he is now, indeed, a private citizen or he gets treated for his dementia. Until that time, Mr. Troll I guess you can rage hate as much as you like yet perhaps you should learn to write proper English cause when you don’t it almost always gives you away, e.g. Capitol not Capital, shame on you for “your ignorance” Putin. Sorry, Dave couldn’t resist. Guess I need to do some tweaking re: my own dharmakaya. xo, Susi

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    • Thank you, Susi!

      I did not know that about James Elroy — what happened to his mother would indeed have to have had a major impact on him as a crime-fiction writer.

      I wish I also believed that comeuppance comes for all who deserve it. If there’s an afterlife, maybe…

      Yes, the comment you refer to was unusual for this blog. I’m constantly dismayed at the amount of loyalty Trump “inspires” when Trump is so awful, and never returns anyone’s loyalty. (Exhibit A: his treatment of Mike Pence after the far-right veep fawned over Trump for four years until he wouldn’t cross the line of trying to illegally hand Trump the presidency he had lost by a large margin.) There was definitely time for Trump to be tried by the U.S. Senate while president — and I loved your line about him delusionally believing he’s still president. 😂

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      • Thanks Dave, you can take down my comment also if you’d like. I get sick of the trolls and that’s why I’m not on any social media platforms anymore: I don’t tweet or book or gram because of them. Trump followers are a cult and I don’t know what they are going to do whenever he dies cause he isn’t going to live forever. I get a sense of mass suicides like Jonestown, Heavens Gate, Waco… although they’ll whine for a bit before that re: how death was so mean to Trump. The Q pipl believe he will be reinstated March 4 since years ago presidents were inaugurated on that date. Ha. You can delete this comment too, Jes sayin’ they are really a lot of angry hateful individuals. So most appropriately I’ll end this with an Ellroy quote that’s more on topic re: this post. “I want to see these bad, bad, bad, bad men come to grips with their humanity.”

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        • No, happy to keep your comment up. 🙂

          I’m still on social media myself (especially Facebook), and have luckily avoided trolls most of the time.

          There is indeed a cult-like aspect to Trump’s following, because by all objective standards there’s nothing decent about him worth following: he’s a liar, he’s lazy, he’s incompetent, he’s cruel, he’s bigoted, etc. I guess many people identify with things such as his racism and his “owning the libs.” 😦

          It will indeed be interesting to see whether “Trumpism” survives Trump. His ghastly older children and politicians like the ghoulish Ted Cruz certainly hope so.

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  5. One of the fulfillments of crime fiction, for me anyway, is that its protagonists are usually presented as being ‘in the know.’ They see, or think they see, beyond the misdirecting show on the apron of society’s stage, back behind the golden curtain that prevents the ordinary citizen from seeing who really runs the show.

    And often, they see that the power behind the curtain is more powerful than law, more entrenched and spread out than they can handle, on the grand scale. So they do what they can, often alone, often in the face of various dangers, to bring justice to bear on, say, a gang of truck hijackers, all the time knowing that the fences of stolen goods will stay in business because the fences are better connected to real power, the kind of power that basks by the country club pool with a drink in one hand a phone in the other, and are thus, untouchable in any overt or official way.

    In a world of sometimes dizzying confusion, where charges and counter-charges fill the air like so much obscuring smoke, it is satisfying to read anything that presents clear moral perspective and a knowing construction on seemingly disparate events and interests and parties– that’s perhaps the most attractive fiction of all.

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    • Thank you, jhNY! Really well said, and I agree.

      Many crime-fiction protagonists do know more than “the average bear” about the levers of power and the underside of life. Knowledge that is useful, daunting, depressing, cynicism-engendering, etc. And, as you note, those protagonists often possess a strong moral streak, even as they’re often rule-breakers as well. Whatever it takes to try to get justice, even if many of the “victories” are semi-futile.

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  6. Hi Dave,
    I have some time to kill, so this might ramble – apologies in advance.
    When you say crime fiction, I picture very new books, 200-300 pages, easy to read, predictable plot. Nothing wrong with any of that, but it’s not my cup of tea. Though I understand crime is a HUGE genre of fiction and it can’t be pigeon holed. It’s a shame that Kat Lit isn’t commenting anymore, as I know she’d be quick to point out all the different kinds of crime novels out there.
    Anyway, using the above description, I’d say I don’t read crime. But then you went and mentioned The Count of Monte Cristo which I loved, and Wilkie Collins who wrote the unputdownable The Woman in White. And of course that got me thinking of Crime and Punishment which I won’t say too much about, because who could compete with the essay that Eric shared below.
    As far as modern fiction goes, I actually really enjoyed the Hannibal trilogy. The writing was so suspenseful, and I think Thomas Harris is a really underestimated writer. I highly recommend them.
    Dave, as always, I applaud your patience and tolerance in the face of name calling and downright rudeness. I did however stumble on a link the other day that might interest you. It was about the conspiracy behind the stolen election. I admit, I clicked the link with some trepidation as you never know where links like this might take you. But it was a conspiracy I’d not heard before. It suggested that Biden stole the election by getting more votes. Who knew?!

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    • Thank you, Susan, for the wide-ranging comment — topped off by that funny Biden finish! 😂

      I know what you mean — the stereotype of a crime novel is indeed 200-300 pages and an easy, predictable read. True in many cases, but expanding the category with such classics as the Dumas, Dostoevsky, and Collins books you mentioned is quite nice and makes total sense. I agree that “The Woman in White” is absolutely “unputdownable.”

      Yes, Kat Lit would have a lot to say, and a lot of interesting things to say, in response to this week’s blog post if she were still commenting. Hope she’s okay and returns here at some point.

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  7. I don’t read much crime fiction (too much crime to deal with in real life!) but I have to say Count of Monte Cristo is one of my favorite novels ever. It’s a lot of work to get there but man does the end make it worth it! I also read last year a crime fiction/suspense sort of novel called “Pretty Things” by Janelle Brown. It follows two robbers who case people using Instagram, and they end up going after someone that really hurt the main girl in her youth. It was a very interesting read with an ending I didn’t expect!

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  8. By the way, Dave, good suggestion, I just placed an order with Amazon.ca for your book, Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time: The Book Lover’s Guide to Literary Trivia Paperback – March 1, 2017. The length of the title, is read itself, and longer than my new series of short poems. Look forward to reading your book.

    Jean-Jacques

    >

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    • Thanks so much for your interest in the book, Jean-Jacques! 🙂 Greatly appreciated, and I hope you like it!

      And — LOL 😂 — the title is indeed longer than some short poems. The publishing person I worked with wanted many “keywords” in the title and subtitle for when people did online searches. My original title was much shorter.

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  9. Great article Dave, as your comparison of reality and fiction is brilliant and dead on. I am a passionate reader of crime fiction, and come to think of it, for the very reason you suggest, as well as having to live with the so called democratic justice system of the western world countries, They all geared to favour the powerful and they of means, that can buy their not guilty plea, regardless. Thankful I am to authors of crime fiction and the likes, for there we can find relief from the manipulations of real world of injustice that man has manipulated to suit his insatiable greed, where truth depends on affordability!

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  10. One of my students wrote this essay as a response to an AP English Literature essay question, so many years ago, and I have permission to reproduce it here, It sums up most Russian crime fiction, but also crime fiction in general.

    Can a man who has committed murder, or any grave crime for that matter, come back from the abyss of life and redeem himself? In Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, a sweeping Russian narrative of Russian society in its extremes, the protagonist, Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikov, undergoes a “spiritual reassessment” and “moral reconciliation.” His moral and spiritual reconciliation in Siberia serves to break his isolation from society, brings him together with Sonia, and renew him as a person who can function in society.

    After Raskolnikov murders the pawnbroker and her sister, he feels isolated from society. He always reminds himself of his deed and how he will never be able to fit in. However, his confession and labor in Siberia (the sentence for his crime) break his isolation. He feels as though he is a new person and can function without feeling isolated. His redemption is vital to him as a character because he cannot function without acceptance into society. As a student, Roskolinkov enjoyed the debate and human contact, which became vital to his existence. The dual nature of Roskolinkov is characterized by his cold intellect and his warm, compassionate side. His crime isolates him and subsequently hurts his compassionate nature. His redemption restores him as a character by restoring his warm nature into society’s contact.

    While in Siberia, Sonia brings Roskolinkov a cross, symbolizing his spiritual restoration. Sonia, his original confidant to whom he entrusted his crime knowledge, was happy to receive him to her because of his reconciliation. Before confessing his crime, Roskalinkov felt isolated from her as well as society. Because he had fallen in love with her, it was excruciating to be isolated from her. When he confesses his crime to her, she immediately accepts him because she is in reconciliation. The strength he draws from her acceptance of him prompts him to confess to society that they may also accept him. Once more, his dual personality was the critical driving force behind his actions. His compassionate nature was suffering from the separation from Sonia. The moral and spiritual reconciliation that stems from her influence is vital in sustaining Roskalinkov and is then of primary importance in the novel.

    The third significant influence on the novel by his reconciliation was of Roskolinkov as a crime boss who could fit into society. Inspector Porfiry, who knew Roskolinkov was the murderer, pushed him into confessing because he felt that Roskolinkov could be rehabilitated and be a valuable member of society. This influence stems primarily from the intellectual side of Roskolinkov’s dual nature. As the Hegelian Super Hero in the novel, Raskolnikov was able to justify his crime intellectually. His reconciliation had to include his compassionate nature; it had to extend to the intellectual level and correct this justification of the crime. With society’s reception of Roskolinkov as one of them, he is accepted as an equal. As an equal, his intellectual assumptions of superiority (as an “extraordinary man”) are shattered, and he is wholly renewed as a character. This makes the “happy ending” described by Weldon possible.

    Raskolnikov’s redemption occurs when he confesses and serves his sentence. This moral and spiritual redemption has a severe impact on the novel because it changes Raskolnikov’s character and renews him as an individual. Raskolnikov’s search for acceptance, which is evident from the beginning of the novel up to his redemption, is finally satisfied. This allows the novel to conclude with the impression of a happy ending through moral development, which Fay Weldon says will “get the best and most lasting response from readers.

    Eric

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      • Eric, great to hear from you again! It’s been a while. 🙂

        That’s a STELLAR essay from a former student of yours. People who did wrong can indeed find some redemption (whether solely through their own efforts or with the help of others) — something I didn’t get into in my admittedly simplistic blog post. I don’t think Trump or most of his Republican enablers are capable of any kind of genuine redemption, but stranger things have happened…

        “Crime and Punishment” is one of my VERY favorite novels.

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        • Thanks, Dave. For most crime fiction, the perspective is usually from the people whose job it is to either solve the crime or find the culprit, both of which give little heed to the morality or implications of the criminal’s actions. For those Holmes aficionados, Doyle’s novels serve as great responses to not only the genius of Holmes but the motivations of what drives people to commit crimes in the first place. Especially in the novels, Holmes solves the crimes early on, then we are treated to another half-book of how the crime came to be carried out.

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          • That’s a great point, Eric, about much of crime fiction focusing on the detectives, private investigators, and other crime-solvers. When some crime fiction at least partly tells the story from the vantage point of the criminals, things can potentially get VERY interesting. The criminals might have some convincing motives or excuses for doing the wrongdoing.

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  11. Oh, the many hours of enjoyment that I spent with Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart (and Nancy Drew, of course) come to mind, Dave. I must go back and read these authors again. Another fabulous post and follow-up discussion. I don’t know whether you can access this YouTube video clip of the movie, National Treasure, which has a marvelous sentence: “Someone has to go to prison., Ben.” https://youtu.be/co4EsnwAM1Q. Did you know that this year is the celebration of Sir Walter Scott’s 250th birthday? This is a quote from Scott’s Ivanhoe that resonates with this post: “For he that does good, having the unlimited power to do evil, deserves praise not only for the good which he performs, but for the evil which he forbears.” Thank you again for making my Sundays extra special. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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    • Thank you, Clanmother, and Happy Valentine’s Day to you, too!

      Glad you mentioned Nancy Drew, who brought many a miscreant to justice. 🙂

      TWO great quotes in your comment — one short and one longer. The Sir Walter Scott words you cited are profound; so true that people who have the power to do evil, but don’t, are deserving of much admiration.

      And the 250th birthday of Scott is a MAJOR milestone! After reading and enjoying many of his novels a number of years ago, I read the nearly 1,400-page biography of Scott by Edgar Johnson. Might have taken me 125 of those 250 years. 🙂 But I was almost never bored.

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  12. I don’t read much crime fiction, but when I do, yes, I do find comfort in the fact that justice ultimately prevails. Despite not reading a lot of crime fiction, I do listen to true crime podcasts and unfortunately, a lot of criminals aren’t brought to justice in real life. I’m based in the UK, but I’ve been following events in the US and I’m appalled that Trump has been acquitted and will be allowed to run for office again 😔

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    • Thank you, Jazz! Enjoyed your “I don’t read much crime fiction, but when I do…” opening. 🙂

      It is indeed comforting when justice prevails in crime fiction! And those crime podcasts you listen to must be fascinating — along with depressing when the criminals get away with things. 😦

      The thought of Trump possibly running for president again in 2024 is indeed sickening, but it could very well happen because of Republican senators being too scared of incurring his wrath by banning him from future runs.

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  13. DAVE – I feel fury that ignorant americans (you do NOT deserve a capital on America) like you who do NO research, listen to the nonsense of the dog and pony show impeachment of TRUMP for a second time, and do NOT protest the abuse of the Constitution where it specifically says The President – with Caps on the words – meaning THE PRESIDENT. NOT a former president. TRUMP is a private citizen NOT a president due to election fraud. and if you say there was none? OMG that shows your intelligence level. Have you ever read the Constitution or the Federalist Papers? I DON”T THINK SO from your comments. Shame on you for your ignorance, for operating with emotion rather than facts, and allowing a CORRUPT CROOK who engages in bribes from CHINA to be the President of this country and who should be in crime literature for sure as the main character.

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    • Okay, hsabin, not exactly the nicest tone to your comment, but I’ll answer.

      Trump COULD have been tried by the U.S. Senate while still in office, but Mitch McConnell refused. The House had impeached Trump with enough time for the Senate to hold hearings before January 20.

      So, you’re basically saying a president can do something ultra-serious like incite a mob to attack the Capitol, and not be held accountable by Congress if that happens near the very end of a president’s term? Wow, pretty bad precedent to be set.

      I’ve never been a big fan of Biden — I was bothered over the years by his bad treatment of Anita Hill, his championing of a harsh crime bill that hurt thousands of African-Americans, his support of the Iraq War, his being under the sway of corporations, etc. I supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries. But Biden is a light years better person than Trump, who doesn’t have a shred of decency.

      As for supposed major fraud in the 2020 election, a number of REPUBLICAN judges and REPUBLICAN politicians who were Trump supporters disputed that in their rulings and actions.

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    • I’ve read what you cite, and came to an opposite conclusion.
      You seem to be a first-rate projectionist with a hostile streak you cannot obscure, and an incapacity to see or hear things that clash with your beliefs– but beliefs are not facts. And CAPS don’t impress, where facts would suffice.

      Why are you here? What did you imagine you would achieve by writing this screed?

      In any case, while you were busy with this stuff, several billygoats have crossed over your bridge without paying your toll. You need to get back to your booth.

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  14. Hi Dave! The only novel which immediately comes to mind on your theme of justice is Louise Erdrich’s The Round House which comprehensively covers many of its nuances. Oh, and probably her LaRose which addresses an accident for which the guilty and the victims find a creative and just solution. For the less satisfying type of ending, there’s always Kafka’s The Trial. 🙂

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    • Thank you, Mary Jo!

      Yes, happy endings weren’t Kafka’s thing — one of the reasons he was such a depressing/riveting writer.

      Sounds like Louise Erdrich skillfully and compellingly dealt with some justice issues! I’ve only read her “The Painted Drum” so far, but look forward to getting to her work again.

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  15. I heard that the attempt to impeach Trump had failed this morning, Dave. Sadly, we have our own version of this story of an abusive president playing out here in South Africa at the moment. If you are interested, you can read a bit about it here: https://ewn.co.za/2021/02/14/state-capture-awaits-zuma-testimony-despite-declaration-of-defiance. I don’t read many thrillers, having more of a taste for classic fiction and family dramas but I do enjoy Agatha Christie and I like that Poirot always gets his justice.

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    • Thank you, Robbie!

      Sorry that your country also has had corrupt leadership. Zuma and Trump share some awful qualities. I imagine many in South Africa miss the days when the admirable Nelson Mandela led the country, I read your link and have also kept up on Zuma a bit via occasional stories in The New York Times over the years.

      Like you, I’m not a major thriller/mystery/detective/crime-fiction reader, though I enjoy it occasionally — and AM hooked on the Jack Reacher series. I’ve also enjoyed Agatha Christie’s work the half-dozen times or so I’ve read her novels. Poirot indeed gets his justice, as Miss Marple gets hers. 🙂

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  16. Good points, Dave, about both real life and crime fiction! Overall, I do enjoy the endings of books where the bad person gets caught and we are reminded that crime doesn’t pay. Occasionally, authors are so masterful in their telling that we begin to like the perpetrator or at least understand them. There often are extenuating circumstances, of course. Sometimes I experience moments of doubt as to whether I really want them carted off to jail. To me, that’s the sign of a very good story.

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    • Thank you, Becky!

      GREAT point about complex perpetrators who have some good in them and have some understandable reasons why they turned to crime. (One of many such characters who come to mind is Lydia Gwilt of Wilkie Collins’ novel “Armadale.”) That is indeed a sign of a very good story.

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  17. Apparently, certain members of that “august” body to which you refer don’t understand what happens when you sell your soul to the devil for votes.

    As for crime fiction, I appreciate how Phillip Marlow keeps trying to make his little corner of the world a little less dirty and corrupt, no matter how many times he gets punched in the face, bashed over the head, or drugged with narcotics.

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    • Thank you, Liz!

      Ha — 🙂 — I share your hope that the soul-selling of the 43 Republicans who voted to acquit Trump has some consequences for them, but who knows? As it stands now, some of the seven GOPers who rightly/bravely voted to convict Trump are being criticized or even censured by despicable fellow Republicans in their respective states. Ugh.

      Philip Marlowe is a terrific character, and I loved the vivid way you described him!

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      • You’re welcome, Dave.

        Despicable doesn’t begin to describe their behavior. I’m finding it hard to even wrap my head around.

        Raymond Chandler was also a very accomplished prose stylist. It’s such a pleasure to read his work.

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        • You’re right, Liz — when one thinks about it, “despicable” is a major understatement. These Trump-supporting Republicans are vile, craven, cowardly, contemptible, soulless, and more. They deserve “The Big Sleep” — from holding political office.

          Chandler is indeed a terrific stylist — among the best ever in the crime-ficton genre.

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  18. I read “The count of Montecristo” when I was a young girl and I suffered with him for his long suffering in prison and enjoyed so much his escape and consequent and just wealth!
    I just thought of Patricia Highsmith’s thriller and her character, because she lived in our surronding! If I think of Tom Ripley or Stranger on the train I just get goose pimple of how much she must have enjoyed evil! Maybe Patricia Highsmith didn’t have the same feelings of what is good and what is evil and people in the real world may also feel it like this! Thank you very much Dave for this exciting topic:) Best regards Martina

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  19. Now that you put it that way, yes they are comforting. That reminds me of a show that used to be on, on the Investigation Discovery Channel, hosted by crime writer Dominick Dunn. It was called Power, privilege, and justice. It was about rich and powerful criminals who thought they were above the law, and how they got their come-uppins. Sadly, this show was on years ago, when it seems the world was just a tad less insane.

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  20. Your comment has just reminded me of a story from a family member’s younger days (50+ years ago). Without wishing to glorify anyone in the crime world (so shall not name names!), a member of the London constabulary attended parties that were frequented by a very well known crime family. So, yes, problematic to say the least!

    Town planners have a lot to answer for! I’m not even sure they visit the places they’re meant to be responsible for!

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    • That is VERY problematic, Sarah, but of course not a total shock. Some law-enforcement people clearly are criminals themselves, and/or have affinity for some criminals.

      Town planners are indeed usually pretty removed from the impact of gentrification. For one thing, they’re not priced out of their own homes, while less-affluent people might be. 😦

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  21. The message being projected with the verdict is quite disturbing, isn’t it. I can understand why you’re probably feeling quite let down.

    I do enjoy reading crime fiction as there’s always a sense of satisfaction when you put the book down – that justice has been served in some way. The detectives I enjoy reading about are the ones who are prepared to bend the rules somewhat…..Sherlock Holmes and Rebus spring to mind. More often than not they’re likely to be found in an opium den by the docks in London or some dodgy bar in the West End of Edinburgh…although drug dens and bad bars have probably given way to gentrification now!!

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    • Thank you, Sarah!

      The verdict was of course wholly predictable, but still dismaying — and disturbing, as you noted. Lack of justice and unequal justice are incredibly demoralizing to the non-elite of any society.

      Great observation that the people bringing people to justice in crime fiction often bend the rules — something that has major potential to be problematic in real life. But in fiction, if meant well, it can work. 🙂

      And gentrification! Ugh. My town is certainly experiencing it — or at least was until the pandemic.

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  22. I’ve never really thought of it in that sense before, but I suppose you’re right. Crime fiction functions so well as escapism by creating a fantasy realm in which justice can be achieved, often by impossibly brilliant heroes like Reacher or Holmes who can be relied upon to solve issues for us

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thank you, Tom! Well said! “Escapism” is definitely an appropriate word when fiction provides justice we often don’t see in real life. If Jack Reacher or Sherlock Holmes actually existed, things would be a bit different, but of course characters like those two clearly don’t exist outside the pages of books — as you allude to.

      Liked by 4 people

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