Well, maybe not the beginning of crime itself, but certainly some of the first novels written solely for the purpose of solving mysteries. I’ve recently finished reading the complete collection of Sherlock Holmes stories, and the illustrious Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has certainly earned his reputation! Along with Agatha Christie, he has given the crime genre an auspicious foundation.
The detail and impressions given by the character Watson’s descriptions only serves to make the “simple, logical deductions” of Holmes that much more magical. In the times his conclusions were explained, everything made perfect sense, but how he noticed each individual clue and brought it to a useable conclusion is truly remarkable. The fact that the police tended to take all credit makes it all the more real and understandable in our own world. (Unfortunately that seems to be rather widespread).
In my fervor over the mysteries in Sherlock Holmes, I picked up an old classic from the Nostalgia section of Oxfam, and thoroughly enjoyed my first reading of Agatha Christie! I think I will be looking for more of hers in the future.. even though the tv Poirot’s little mustache has never made me want to watch him. I don’t think I’ll have to wait long, I know some really great copies of them come into the shop from time to time.
However, I don’t think the whole crime section will gain me as a reader. I was never drawn to the thriller and crime section before, probably because I have trouble sleeping after horror films, but after reading Agatha Christie, and the adventures of Mr. Sherlock Holmes I decided to give it a try. I picked up one of those Ian Rankin books, since they seem to be so popular and all over the place. They also have some nice stylized covers. Anyhow, I didn’t even make it to the third chapter. NOT for me. He couldn’t keep his characters straight, and the brutality of the murders was really excessive. But if you didn’t mind that, it could end up being a good story. I just don’t think it’s for me! I much prefer the intellectual puzzles of Holmes and Christie.
I think that’s what makes all the crime dramas (in book and video form) so popular from Murder She Wrote to CSI and the banter that lightens those like Psych and Castle– it’s the puzzle. Even medical shows like House play on this desire. And this puzzle is the most intriguing for me when the story isn’t clouded by a focus on the brutal aspect of the crime, and when it is clear the author has thought out every detail, and each tiny thing ends up adding to the ultimate reveal. It’s hard to focus on the details and work out the puzzle when the author himself doesn’t bother to know which character thinks/feels/sees what. In the stories I like, bits like that are important. But I don’t want to seem like I’m bashing one author or genre specifically. I know there are books everywhere that have mistakes like that, and it could have not been indicative of his writing on the whole, I might have just caught the one major error in the whole book. But that with the brutality made me just not really want to find out. I have a lot more on my list to read!
Basically, Sherlock Holmes is amazing, Agatha Christie’s novels are awesome, and I’ll just have to keep on trying the more modern crime writers to determine if the beginnings are better than the present state of crime thrillers. I do love the puzzle.