Mystery, thriller, crime fiction is the literary genre that fictionalises delinquency, their detection, criminals and their motives. It has several sub-genres, including detective fiction, legal thriller, courtroom drama and hard-boiled fiction. Better known are the earlier dark works of Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849). The Sherlock Holmes mysteries of Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) are said to have been singularly responsible for the huge popularity in this genre, as Agatha Christie’s (1890-1979) , “The Queen of Crime”, novels.
If these are first Kings, the Anglophone literature has created a huge number of stories and novels in the twentieth and twenty-first century.
Up to the 1960s or so, reading the paperback edition of a crime novel was usually considered a cheap thrill — with the word “cheap” used in both meanings: “inexpensive” and “of minor quality”. This often did not correlate with the immense popularity of these books on both sides of the Atlantic. For example, the British had been fascinated by Edgar Wallace’s (1875–1932) crime novels ever since the author set up a competition offering a reward to any reader who could figure out and describe just how the murder in his first book, The Four Just Men (1906), was committed.
*Did you know that in Italy people commonly call a story about detectives or crimes “giallo” because books of crime fiction have usually had a yellow cover since the thirtie?