Not Because I’m Morbid

I’ve heard it has been said to crime writers – though not to me – why do you write about something so morbid?

Well, it’s because when we see something morbid, or horrifying, or disturbing, we want to know why. News reports hardly ever cover this. I’m not talking about the motive. I mean the social situations, the background of everyone involved, the upbringing – all the little details that contribute towards the final picture. That is what a crime story does. It explores the reasons for the actions, not just the actions themselves.

A good crime book is also about bringing order to chaos. A crime brings disorder and uncertainty to a community. A crime solved restores order and calm. And that’s what most crime books are about – not just the crime, but the detection of the crime.

So, OK, crime books can be gruesome, and morbid and all the other accusations levelled against them. But they can be about justice and understanding and truth too. They are about the story of the people caught up in a crime, in the most horrific event of their lives. That is why we write about it. Not because we are morbid, but so we can understand it, and then fix it – at least on the page.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby


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