When we find ourselves thinking about the intentional killing of one human being by another, many of us feel overwhelmed. Although the frequency of such terrible events is always high, there are varying degrees of importance: grief and social change are attributed to murder, and it is acknowledged as tragic worldwide.
Here in the United States, we do keep track of homicidal killing in our statistics collected as manner of death, derived, as I understand it, from death certificate data. This article from The New York Times is worth reading, I believe, for those interested in understanding the national scope of the problem in recent times: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/27/us/fbi-murders-2020-cities.html
And, as if the expanding tragedy were not enough, the persistent view of the death penalty as some form of justice, continues to stain our souls. Here is a link to the Catholic Mobilizing Network, a group determined to end capital punishment, and open to all people: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/27/us/fbi-murders-2020-cities.html. There is moving testimony of parents of Shannon Schieber, a woman murdered in Bethesda, MD where she was studying for her PhD, just twenty-four years old when she was killed in 1998. Mr. Schieber speaks of surrendering anger and hatred, and turning to Christ’s directive in the Lord’s Prayer, and turning to hopeful living: https://catholicsmobilizing.org/restorative-justice.
Why do we want to read crime fiction?
I believe there are several reasons:
· Murder is the ultimate crime, it ends the murderer’s interaction with the victim
· The level of anger and hatred we experience when we finally understand who did the killing and why helps us readers to understand our own lives, especially our reactions.
· The solution of “who-dun-its” is carried out by professionals who are very interesting to us: deep motivations, conflicts.
· The story’s crime, action and resolution make us aware of morality, prejudice, and our deeply flawed criminal justice system.
If you are interested in knowing more about the crime fiction genre, and why there are so many crime fiction novels, I recommend reading (or listening via Audiobook) the discussion of the crime genre by PD James. Although she passed away at age 94, Baroness James's work and life continue to inspire. Here is the link to her work, and a photograph of the wonderful author: