The other day, an American interviewer challenged me about the purpose of fiction; should it always contain a moral message? Specifically, should crime fiction?
My instant answer: No No No! The purpose of crime fiction should be to Entertain, and nothing should come before that.
Why? We have countless other venues that preach morality. Religions seek to teach us how to behave. Every day we are bombarded by newspapers, radio and other nonfiction outlets, that expose us to the ‘evil’ of greedy politicians, nasty world despots and out of control celebrities.
If fiction – and crime fiction in particular – was required to follow a moral code, we would miss so much. If the good guy always won – if the bad guy always got caught – wouldn’t that make crime fiction lamentably predictable?
Does that mean crime fiction can’t teach us something? Of course it can! Put me in the mind of a serial killer for a few hours. Let me know what it feels like to experience the overwhelming greed of a con artist. Dress me up as a torch singer, with a black heart and a gun in her stocking.
Let me discover something about how other people think, if only for a little while. But above all else, entertain me. Don’t preach at me, even from a distance. I don’t want it from my fiction.
Just tell me a damn good story, thank you. Take me out of the real world for a few hours.
That’s the purpose of crime fiction.