Crime Fiction

Crime Fiction is one of the most popular genres in the world. For more than a century the genre has sold phenomally well. The crime fiction roots are in 19th century sensationalist writings in primitive newspapers called broadsheets. In these broadsheets graphic and exaggerated accounts of crime & execution were reported. Vidocq was a French master criminal. The broadsheets frequent;ly reported stories of his misdemeanours. He quickly gained status similar to that of a popstar. People liked Vidocq as he was daring and a master criminal.

Vidocq became a policeman later in his life. When he resigned from the police force he became a private detective and a writer. A ghost written biography of Vidocq was then published, based on real crime yet the biography was vastly exaggerated. The first real crime fiction story was Edgar Allen Poe's 'The Murders In The Rue Morgue'. Poe was a horror writer experimenting with this story. Poe's background as a horror writer can be clearly seen in 'Murders In The Rue Morgue' in the graphic descriptions of the murders.

'On a chair lay a razor besmeared with blood. On the hearth were two or three long and thick tresses of grey human hair, also dabbled in blood, and seeming to have been to have been pulled out by the roots. ' The story opens with an analytical discussion about crime itself. Yet as the genre established itself books tended to start with the crime taking place. The first Detective in a crime fiction novel was Poe's Inspector Dupin. Dupin is a detective who has fallen on hard times as his companion states below:

"This young gentleman was of an excellent- indeed of an illustrious family, but, by a variety of untoward events had been reduced to such poverty……. " Yet generally the detective is well to do. This means that they do not have to work for a living so they can pick and choose which cases they take on. Taking this into consideration, the book will be about an interesting case and gives the detective freedom as they are without the rules of a police force (an interesting case would be chosen if the detective was in the police force to make the book appeal).

Compared to Holmes you get to see little of Inspector Dupin's character. Yet Dupin has several innate qualities such as being able to read people like a book which is showed by many other fictional detectives. This is first described as a peculiar analytical ability. Dupin then states that most men are like open windows. This is his own style. This is shown in 'Murders In The Rue Morgue' when Dupin boasts to his companion.

"With a low chuckling laugh, that most men, in respect to himself, wore windows in their bosoms and was wont to follow up such assertations by direct and very startling proofs of his intimate knowledge of my own. " This shows Dupin's ability clearly. He also shows his ability to see to read a crime scene, for example seeing past the evidence at a crime scene, what isn't there at a crime scene or what didn't occur at the crime scene. This is shown when Dupin is investigating the second voice in the house. All parties seem to think the voice belonged to a foreigner.

Yet Dupin sees it differently. 'It is represented by two others to have been quick and unequal. No words- no sounds- no sounds resembling words- were by any witness mentioned as distinguishable. ' This is a perfect example of Dupin seeing past the obvious present at a crime scene. The structure of 'The Murders In The Rue Morgue' set the structural blueprint for all later novels. The only thing that has changed is that at the start of later novels we begin with the crime being committed opposed to the start Of 'Murders In The Rue Morgue' which opens with an analytical discussion.

After the opening, the detective surveys the crime scene, draws his own conclusions. Then the suspects emerge, are questioned and someone is wrongly accused, the detective reviews the evidence and a conclusion is reached. This structure has survived throughout the history of Crime Fiction virtually intact. Sherlock Holmes is the most famous fictional detective. Arthur Conan Doyle's character is a masterful creation. Yet Holmes was developed from Inspector Dupin, a creation of Edgar Allen Poe.

Poe's detective was a rather straightforward character with some innate abilities. Sherlock Holmes on the other hand had a complex character, he is a man of many talents, distinctive. Holmes is a cocaine addict yet he refrains from cocaine whilst on a case showing a case is like a drug to him. All detectives share the need to detect. Dupin states this need himself in "Murders In The Rue Morgue" Holmes is a master of disguise which he uses to great effect. People make fun at Holmes' expense.