June 25, 2015 0

Review of The Penguin Book of Crime Stories, Vol II.

By in Book Reviews

I’ve read The Penguin Book of Crime Stories, Volume 2, Peter Robinson ed. Easy book to get through – reading story after story is like munching potato chips.

I’ve now got the idea that a crime story is about conflict, but taken to the level that most of us rarely aspire to. We can hate a boss, but very few of us will execute a plan to slit his throat, and then dispose of the evidence. In real life we may sit and fume, but the fictional version where violent and decisive action is taken is satisfying.
Of course, in fiction at least, crime doesn’t pay (except in those cases when it does).
Through reading these stories we can play at being the perpetrator, or the sleuth. These are plot-driven stories, so the action is straightforward. This is unlike the literary tale where, for instance, someone is crying at the end, and the reader has to review all that went before to put together the pieces and find out what has changed. Hence the crime story’s quick read, and a general sense of satisfaction at the conclusion of each tale. Justice has been arrived at. Or a clever plan has been executed.
Reading crime books and stories as I’ve been (thanks to a friend with a big and often-updated library), I’m finding elements of formula. Too many of them take the same tropes and play them over, again and again. I might try writing something like one of these. It will take a bit of research to create the characters I have in mind. Doing suspense looks like fun, and then there are the twisty plots, which I am less fond of.

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