Why Do We Like Detective Fiction?

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Papp Orsolya


Why Do We Like Detective Fiction?

Detective Fiction is a popular genre from the beginning of history of entertainment. We can find its roots in the history of theatre and in ancient religious or historical texts. According to Wikipedia drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance. It is also generally known that there are three types of drama: tragedy, comedy and the satyr play. The plot of these genres was similar to detective fiction because the main issue is a crime in both case. So we can ascertain that people are interested in this topic since a long time ago. But what is so seductive in crime, murder, violence and secrets that we want to see them again and again?

First of all, the main reason can be the fact that detective stories provide the kind of excitement that many people cannot obtain their real life. Through these stories they can break away from reality, they can experience great tension, thrill, and meet idealized heroes. Usually, adventures like these are missing from the everyday life of ordinary people.

And now let me talk about the stories and adventures which we crave for in order to understand why do people love them. The basic situation in dramas and detective fictions is a crime, most of the time it is a homicide. The offender and the inducement are unknown. This scanty background gives us the sense of mystery. Course this wakes up the curiosity which is part of human nature. Satisfying our curiosity and sense of justice can be a great pleasure. So this is another reason why people like detective fiction.

Secondly, detective fiction has a special kind of protagonist. Just think about Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. The hero is an investigator (professional or just an amateur individual) who is trying to find the offender. Of course he or she has to possess a lot of special attribute and ability. For example wisdom, knowledge, logical thinking, suspiciousness, ability of observation and being extremely sharp-witted. These qualities are the ones that most of us respect, admire and we look up to them.

Humanity has been always inquired by the unknown, the hidden knowledge and think of the human mind as a supernatural phenomenon. We are impressed by others who are smarter than us and there is an inner hunger for knowledge in each person. Definitely, knowledge means power in our world. The hero, who has knowledge and this way also has power, is our icon and we like identifying ourselves with him, and imagine what would we do in his place. “Were I the investigator, would I think of this?” ask people during watching a movie or reading a book. This can be very entertaining because let us trying out our logic and other abilities. Where else can people test their mind and entertain themselves at the same time?

The third reason why we like detective fiction is that we are surrounded with it today. We can see the same shocking events in the news on television or we can read them in the newspapers or on the internet. The difference is that we are only observers who face crimes but we cannot do anything about them. We never know the background and real traces. We are not private investigators or police officers and we never solve the crimes or track down the committers. Jurisdiction is not always successful and there are not always punishment of the culprits in real trials. We don’t like injustice and unsolved, uncompleted cases. And the detective fiction provide a solution, it helps us understand why crimes happen and satisfies our need for answers and justice or knowledge. In the books or movies cases are solved, or at least we know who is guilty and why did he or she commit felony.

You may say that real reason for liking detective fiction is due to search in the barbaric nature of humans. Indeed in the Middle Ages for instance people committed a lot of terrible things against each other. There were terrible torture techniques in administration of justice and there were public executions. Also many war have happened during history. This can prove that people enjoy brutality and watching crime, gratification and recompense. However, this is not so much about the barbaric nature that the intelligence and desire to know more, to know hidden things, to solve puzzles and to discover the truth.

In my opinion, the most enjoyable part of detective fictions is the unexpected turn of the story line. For example in the books of Agatha Christie we can read surprising, amazing twists of the plot, there is always a newer suspected person and a newer incitement or reason. Usually in these books at the end the least suspicious person is the guilty one and we never know who will turn to be the murder at the end. Personally, I like these stories because, as many people, I like surprises and unpredictable events in movies or in books. This makes them entertaining and enjoyable.

Consequently, the reason why people like detective fiction is simply the excitement and entertainment that the structure and essence of the story give us.

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