I started writing murder mysteries in 2009 and finshed my first trilogy (Evil in the Mirror, Day Stalker and The Phoenix Code) in February of this year. During that whole time, I never knew the history of the murder mystery genre.
After receiving my author copies last week, I started planning a new marketing strategy. It occurred to me that selling a product (any product) required the sales person be an expert in the field. By rights, I should be selling Harley-Davidsons because I knew more about them than the books I was writing. Fear not; I Googleized the subject and now I am an expert in the field. I feel better now and can proceed to market my books with confidence and gusto!
Because this blog has far exceeded the 300 words normally allowed by astute bloggers, I do not expect you to read any further. I did find the history of murder mysteries interesting though…you may want to wade through it.
I’m just saying,
Crime fiction is 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. It has several sub-genres, including detective fiction (such as the whodunit), legal thriller, courtroom drama and hard-boiled fiction. In Italy people commonly call a story about detectives or crimes “giallo“(en: yellow), because books of crime fiction have usually had a yellow cover since the thirties
The earliest known crime novel is “The Rector of Veilbye” by the Danish author Steen Steensen Blicher, published in 1829. Better known are the earlier dark works of Edgar Allan Poe (e.g., “The Murders in the Rue Morgue ” (1841), ” The Mystery of Marie Roget ” (1842), and “The Purloined Letter” (1844)). Wilkie Collins‘ epistolary novel The Woman in White was published in 1860, while The Moonstone (1868) is often thought to be his masterpiece. French author Émile Gaboriau‘s Monsieur Lecoq (1868) laid the groundwork for the methodical, scientifically minded detective. The evolution of locked room mysteries was one of the landmarks in the history of crime fiction. The Sherlock Holmes mysteries of Arthur Conan Doyle are said to have been singularly responsible for the huge popularity in this genre. A precursor was Paul Féval, whose series Les Habits Noirs (1862–67) features Scotland Yard detectives and criminal conspiracies. The best-selling crime novel of the nineteenth century was Fergus Hume’s The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (1886), set in Melbourne, Australia.
The evolution of the print mass media in the United Kingdom and the United States in the latter half of the 19th century was crucial in popularizing crime fiction and related genres. Literary ‘variety’ magazines like Strand, McClure’s, and Harper’s quickly became central to the overall structure and function of popular fiction in society, providing a mass-produced medium that offered cheap, illustrated publications that were essentially disposable.
Like the works of many other important fiction writers of his day—e.g. Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens—Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories first appeared in serial form in the monthly Strand magazine in the United Kingdom. The series quickly attracted a wide and passionate following on both sides of the Atlantic, and when Doyle killed off Holmes in The Final Problem, the public outcry was so great, and the publishing offers for more stories so attractive, that he was reluctantly forced to resurrect him. Later a set of stereotypic formulae began to appear to cater to various tastes.