What Makes A Good Crime Fiction?

I think I’m pretty well-versed on crime fiction. Not only do I read an insane amount of them, I even studied crime fiction in high school; I can tell you the development of crime fiction, the important sub-genres, the important writers for each of them etc (luckily I didn’t go through the usual student fatigue on a topic that was over-tested).

So if I could read a crime fiction of my choice, I’d like it to include the following aspects:

  • The detectives are a force to be reckoned with. They may not know everything but their deductions and wits drive the plot and the final denouement. They’ve never passively allowed others to play the hero, yet they’ve realistically relied on the expertise of others. Read an old post of mine for more details.
  • The supporting characters themselves have notable attributes as well. They don’t just blend into the background. It’s too unbelievable for the detective to do everything and it just shows the authors’ talents for them to be able to develop other well rounded characters.
  • The crimes aren’t necessarily complex or in-your-face but they’ve been written with some thought put into it. They say everything has already been done, that it’s impossible to come up with new ideas so I believe it is less important to write about something radical but more important execute it well. I seem to have a preference for crimes that are overly detailed, but I don’t say no to a nicely paced criminal drama. I hate stories where the writers try to out-do each other with something crazier with each villain-of-the-week’.
  • Finally, the books don’t take themselves that seriously, there’s an underlying self-awareness throughout that they’re there to entertain, not provide hard-boiled truths about life. I like reading about crime novels that knowingly wink right at you.

I feel like I’ve written multiple posts on this already and this is just an amalgamation of various other writings so I’m not too proud of this. Still, it’s been sitting around in my head for at least two months at this point, so I at least want to sort through my thoughts.


What do you think makes a good crime fiction? What elements are needed? What are your favourite ones?


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