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

Category: News

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.


13 thoughts on “Cosy Mystery or Dark and Twisty…? (Prizes Involved!)

  1. Dark? Twisted? Terrifying? It can ONLY be new school crime fiction.. Honestly, its a real sign of our ever changing world, the fond rapport has turned from elderly ladies in tweed, solving heinious crimes whilst sipping English tea to hard faced, ballsy female leads who face terrifying perils daily and will stop at nothing, including possible death, to discover the often grisly truth behind the menace on the streets( or in our own homes).
    Gone are the days of upperclass murders over ancient pearls and in come the serial killers, deviants and faceless monsters who haunt our world! NO-ONE is safe from these horrifying beings that seem to hide behind that doorway, to lurk in the shadows on darkened streets or who infiltrate our computers and threaten ALL we love and hold dear… I would rather be too terrified to visit the lavatory in those dark, windy nights than be afraid of whether there may be arsenic in my afternoon macaroon… Never fear though, 9 times out of ten that malicious killer will be caught during a frightening showdown… Or will they?…
    Bring it on Mo Hayder, Karen Rose, Peter James, Jilliane Hoffman, Stuart McBride, Jane Casey and Tania Carver..We wait in anticipation for that next thrill, that ominous fear… And sadly of course we LOVE it 🙂

  2. I like a gritty dark and twisted crime book with a drop of humour here and there & some mystery about it to keep me wanting to turn the next page and the next, but some writers still have a tendency to tack on a mushy happy ending which can spoil them at times.I’d rather them be more realistic than spoilt with mushy romance and happy ever afters, because life just isn’t like that.Obviously you don’t want all doom and gloom but you can turn to other types of books if you’re wanting a bit of joy, joy happy can’t you.

  3. To me books are a way to escape from the harsh reality of the world. This is why I prefer a read that challenges me to think, so few people do that these days. Don’t hack and slash, be clever, it might not be the most popular with the masses but it will provide you with true long standing fans.

  4. Honestly, I read books where people were slaughtered from the very first pages and the description of the murders was very vivid. But I have to say I enjoy the twisted situations where the unexpected comes at each chapter. I prefer the mystery and the mind games an author can play, instead of the violence of a murder. An author is really good if he’s able to create mental pictures and play with your mind, not simply describe in a cruel way an event.

  5. I love thrillers. I don’t mind a bit of gruesome but not too much. I love thrillers with a twist and something different. I loved Sanctus by Simon Toyne, it was something differentand I like that.

  6. I Love scary novels that have all the ingredients of a really nail biting read….
    keeps you not wanting to turn the light of …. because you just have to read the next chapter and find out what happens …… I just love being kept in suspense of a scary thriller and keep guessing who the killer is and wonder why they done it. Makes very exciting reading and love Tess Gerritson and Susan Hill novels they are excellent authors and really keep you turning the pages ……..

  7. I prefer a mixture of the two.

    A nice cosy setting with gruesome killings or a dark edgy setting with a moral heart.

    Anything too cosy makes the murders seem unnecessary… and anything too dark makes life seem unnecessary…

  8. Give me a cosy mystery any day. I hate being kept awake by slashers! It’s the whodunnit that keeps me turning the pages, and the escape from reality.

  9. Classic murder mystery’s such as those works by Sir Arthur Conan Doyal or Agatha Christie are tense, shocking and make you want to continuosly read on to find out the answers. Modern thrillers unlike the old detective novels are a lot more open when it comes to revealing the twisted minds of those sycopathic killers, and how they think and act. In a way the older murder mystery really does leave it all to the imagination, hence modern works i find are all that more realistic and spinechilling.
    It comes down to personal choice on what you prefer as a reader, whether you want the gore and the horror or something more sedate but in no way less tense and exciting. Both leave the reader perplexed as you sit on the edge of your seat wanting to uncover the killer’s secrets.

    Thank you so much for a fantastic giveaway regarding a genre that i apsolutely love, which is compelling and gripping to read.

  10. I will always enjoy old friends – rereading them also evokes times and pleasures gone ….but the exciment of a fresh thriller; the unexpected – the excitement of a fresh new book; different thoughts – different pathways – nothing is as good as when a new favourite is born!

  11. I have to land my reading glasses firmly in the New School Camp.
    Having no desire to read books with tweed jacketed sleuths, wearing their carpet slippers. The hard hitting text from a gritty crime hero or heroine with a modern outlook and a realistic grip on true life events is my choice every time.
    The subjects of New School authors are often harrowing but ultimately far more enjoyable and make for a taxing read.

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