Cosy Mystery or Dark and Twisty…? (Prizes Involved!)

This week sees our Killer Reader Kate Stephenson (pictured right) asking for your views on modern Twisted Thrillers Vs. the classic Murder Mystery…

Earlier this year at the Oxford Lit Fest, Sophie Hannah and Simon Brett discussed the respective merits of the dark and twisted new school and the cosy old school of murder mysteries in a panel entitled Murder Mystery: Blood Bath or Brain Teaser?

Has crime fiction become too gory? It’s a question hotly debated amongst readers and writers alike. Some hark back to the masters of the cosies like Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers, and despair that contemporary crime fiction has gone too far, indulging in graphic violence – particularly the torture of women and children – for sensationalist purposes. Others don’t have a problem with it, being that it is fiction, after all. The authors are not committing the violent crimes they describe, nor inciting readers to do so. And surely we’re all consenting adults, making our own reading choices – if what you’re reading offends you, all you need to do is put the book down.

Personally, I can stomach pretty gruesome books (though I’m hopeless trying to watch a slasher film). But what does it say about me, that I’ll quite easily read a novel featuring a paedophile or a rapist, and a bloody trail of bodies littered across the pages. Have I become inured to the gore? Am I a terrible person? One thing’s for sure… I’m not alone. Much of the bestselling crime fiction today confirms the macabre appetite of readers.

At the Oxford event, Sophie Hannah revealed one of her writing mantras – if you’re not going to write about something in a new and original way, don’t bother. It would seem to follow that writers are actually under pressure to invent new and twisted MOs for their killers, pushing the limits to give readers what they want.

Simon Brett was of the opinion that if you’re going to do dark and twisty, try to inject just enough humour so that your readers don’t come away feeling incredibly depressed. This is why Stuart MacBride is so brilliant – he’s definitely not one to shy away from dark & grisly, but his wicked sense of humour lightens the mood at just the right moment.

But enough from me, we at Killer Reads want to hear from you. And naturally there will be prizes involved (books, glorious books!).

To enter, please post up your thoughts on the matter. Best post in defence of the new school will win a set of deliciously disturbing books, including a SIGNED hardback copy of Stuart MacBride’s No.1 bestseller Birthdays for the Dead. The best defence of the cosies will get a beautiful set of Agatha Christie hardback editions.


Please enter your thoughts before the closing date of Thursday the 27th of September to be in with a chance to win these fantastic books.


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