The perfect crimes: why thrillers are leaving other books for dead

While literary novels are sidelined, crime fiction is fast developing as the most versatile narrative of our times

For years, crime fiction titles have topped the bestseller lists and library lending tables. That sales of the genre have now overtaken general fiction, as revealed at the London Book Fair last week, comes as no surprise to its readers, practitioners, critics and industry professionals.

We’ve always recognised its reach, dynamism, integrity and, increasingly, diversity. Yet its rise, and indeed acceptance, is still a mystery to some, with any number of narratives seeking to understand the phenomenon. This is about as helpful as trying to define exactly what makes a bestseller a bestseller, and, perhaps more important, how to spot the next big thing. At best it’s a lucky amalgamation; so many factors come into play. Being in the right place at the right time, with the right idea, and talent, ...