It took a long time for the roman policier to run through all its possible variations of plot and character. The constant advance of technology has provided new ways to stash the corpse (in the foundations of the nuclear power plant) and to track down the culprit (after the fingerprints and the phone-bill paper trail came the credit-card account, the heat signature, the carbon footprint). We’ve had increasing numbers of women detectives and the emergence of the female coroner. But, finally, there are only so many storylines and patterns of conflict. The only workable solution has been to shift the reader’s involvement from the center to the periphery: to the location. In most of the crime novels coming out now, it’s a matter not of what happens but of where. Essentially, they are guidebooks.
Category: Detective fiction