Thursday, 4 August 2011

Crime Fiction

Welcome to my blog on crime fiction, writing, and other stuff. I’m also maintaining a blog on my website at http://www.mjmccann/apps/blog and I encourage you to skip over there to check things out. I’ve decided to open up shop here as well, however, because Blogger has outrageously good search engine indexing and better opportunities to interact with the bloggiverse. So, in the immortal words of Darkwing Duck, “let’s get dangerous!”

As I was preparing Blood Passage for publication I found myself wrestling with questions of taxonomy. How would I categorize a novel in which attention shifts between homicide investigators, a murderer who is a high-ranking organized crime official, and a little boy who claims he is the reincarnated spirit of the murder victim at the center of the investigation?

The most appropriate category available from Mother Amazon is Mystery & Thriller, and so Blood Passage has been duly listed there. While other novels in the series may be more accurately described as mysteries, Blood Passage isn’t so much, because while the killers of Martin Liu are eventually identified through the investigations of Donaghue and Stainer – as well as Peter Mah, the Triad Red Pole – the killings perpetrated by Peter are not at all mysterious in nature.

As a result, I took a little comfort in slotting Blood Passage into the Police Procedural subcategory of the Mystery & Thriller category, because it does in truth focus on the investigative procedures of Donaghue and Stainer in some detail. I spent a fair amount of time researching homicide investigation and tried to present a reasonably accurate picture of how police detectives work and live.

But when it came time to settle on the name of the series of which Blood Passage is the debut installment, I balked at calling it the Donaghue and Stainer Mystery series. Instead, after a little experimentation, I settled on “the Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel series.”

Wikipedia defines crime fiction as “the literary genre that fictionalizes crimes, their detection, criminals and their motives. It is usually distinguished from mainstream fiction and other genres such as science fiction or historical fiction, but boundaries can be, and indeed are, blurred.”

While you could argue that this is a typically fuzzy Wikipedia effort, I like it because it touches on all the important elements in what I’m writing. Crime. Its detection. Criminals. Their motives. This works well for Blood Passage and will work well for the other novels to follow.

This distinguishes it from the kind of story in which the mystery and its solution take center stage, usually a story in which the detective follows clues and uses logic and sound reasoning (ratiocination) to identify the perpetrator, as in the Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christie vein, or investigators sift through thousands of bits of physical evidence to solve the crime, as in the CSI-centered stories.

The more general definition of crime fiction allows me to position your point of view as reader anywhere in the story I wish. I can withhold the answers from you and make the mystery and its solution the primary focus of your attention, but in some instances I might prefer to position you closer to the characters than to the mystery. In the case of Blood Passage I prefer to have the characters dominate your attention as you move through the story. I want you to learn about Hank, Karen and Peter. And Smoke Archer. And Uncle Sang. And Anna Haynes Donaghue.

So, crime fiction it is.

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