Reader Question re Crime Scenes

Nancy J. Cohen

I will be on the road today en route to Bouchercon, so I won’t be able to respond. Here is a question for you to discuss amongst yourselves.

Do you prefer to read about clever crimes, ingenious crimes, heinous crimes, or funny crimes? Do you like these scenes to be offstage or on site?

dead woman

See examples of each below.

Clever crime: Stabbing victim with icicle that later melts, dissolving the murder weapon. Or using the victim’s own medications against him.

Ingenious crime: Getting a person who has a bee allergy in contact with an aggressive bee. Maybe multiple people get stung, disguising the true victim. This one takes more thought and planning than a mere clever crime.

Heinous crime: Abducting and murdering people then cutting up their body parts or dissolving them in acid.

Funny crime: Beating the victim with a frozen turkey and then cooking it up for the cops.

Which type do you prefer in the mysteries you read or write?

11 thoughts on “Reader Question re Crime Scenes

  1. I love ingenious crimes. It’s always fun to try to solve puzzles and riddles, although I do read heinous crimes. I find them scary and stomach-churning, but I can’t keep away…

  2. I enjoy clever and ingenious crimes, and even used those in my debut. Think that I might continue the trend in other books. Certainly that guides my reading.

  3. I’ll add my question to the mix. Why does a “murder” have to happen at all? Will readers accept bank robbers, kidnappers, embezzlers, human trafficking, drug dealing, simply thievery, etc., as the basis for a book billed as a mystery?

  4. In my writing I tend to go for the ingenious, with puzzles to solve. But while reading I’m willing to go along for the ride regardless of crime scene as long it’s done well. Entertain me, keep me guessing, and I’m happy.

  5. I like to read and write about the ingenious crime. I want something filled with clues and red herrings and has a growing list of suspects to be narrowed. To answer Terry’s question – I don’t think a mystery needs a murder. As long as the story and characters are interesting I’d read a novel where the mystery is how Pear the hamster got out of a closed cage.

  6. I like to read clever and ingenious crimes with an occasional humorous crime thrown in once in a while for a change of pace. I like stories with interesting plot twists and unique characters so even if there isn’t an actual murder, as long as the author keeps me guessing, gives me characters to care about or be fascinated by, and offers a view into a part of life I would never encounter on my own, I’ll keep turning the page.

  7. I think I’m more interested in the villain than the crime itself. Hannibal Lechter, for example–he was clever, ingenious, funny (at times), and heinous. He’s my all-time fave.

  8. I never gave this any thought before. Thinking about it now, I’d say for me it’s no so much about the type of crime, as you describe it, but the characters and the journey on the way to the resolution. With a Jack Reacher novel, what engages me most is the Reacher character, his interactions, and what he’s up to generally. The same would be true for novels by Robert Crais, Sue Grafton, Mo Hayder, Michael Connelly, etc. Harlan Coben is a problem for me, because I think he relies too much on deux ex machina. So…maybe for me the crime is my McGuffin for reading the book.

  9. Because I write thrillers, I like one or so crime scenes per story that are difficult to figure out–may or may not even have a paranormal or cryptid angle to them. A mangled corpse–those assorted footprints around it–two distinct shoe types. One set clearly belongs to a small sized pair of sneakers, the other set of prints are for a larger-sized sneaker. But the barefoot prints. They’re six inches across and about 15 inches long. The heel’s wide but uniform, and the toes are nearly squared off. The big toe is splayed from the rest of the toe set. There is no arch.

    The prints are deep.

    The crime detail officers look at one another and begin to smile. One, Franks, bites his lip but his belly shakes anyway. He’s clearly chuckling.

    “Nawt , nawt,” Detective Corrigan barks, shaking his head. Then he winces and grabs his head. Detective Spanky Corrigan is known to knock back a shot or two or more after his watch.

    “The ain’t no bigfoots around here. Around anywhere.” He takes a deep, loud breath. He is clearly urinated.

  10. I love ingenious, funny crimes. And more than one crime too! Even if it’s laced with gallows humor, there should be fun in everything we do as readers and writers. Keep them (and me) guessing, spin us around a few times, preferably pointing in the wrong direction and whatever you do, don’t let me figure it out on page 10. I’ll do you the same service.

  11. I love them all as long as the writer can keep me engaged. If pressed to make a choice, I would gravitate to the clever whodunit crime!

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