Life-changing books and Crime Fiction

Have you ever read a book and got to a point where you read it super slow, sometimes only reading a page or two a day because you didn’t want the book to end? Aren’t those the best? Then, you get to the end and once you turn the last page, you have mixed emotions at each end of the spectrum. You’re super excited to have read the book but also dreadfully sad because it’s come to an end. Those are the books that change your life. They’re the ones that you will read and reread over and over and never forget and it will only get better each time you read it.

I’ve read a few books like this in my lifetime. They’re definitely the ones that made me fall in love with reading and stories. Unfortunately, I’ve lost copies of some of my favorites but the stories themselves stay with me.

I’m reading the Concrete Blonde by Michael Connelly still and I’m reading a chapter per day because it’s gotten very good and not only am I too busy to read it for hours each day but I also don’t want to reach the end of the story yet. After reading Michael Connelly’s first book, I wasn’t sure I was going to read him again. It was a good book but there was a lot of time in there that felt pretty dull and I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue with it. It wasn’t his writing but it was the overall arc of the story and I began to lose interest. I decided to pick up The Concrete Blonde when I was at the book store and decided I’d give Connelly’s crime fiction another try and I was delightfully surprised. I don’t want this book to end. I’m very lucky, though, in that he’s written over twenty books since. If more of Connelly’s stories are as intriguing as this one, I’ll read through the rest of what he’s written.

I had started reading Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep which, while a classic work of crime fiction and referenced many times throughout Connelly’s books, it’s a little slow at first and can take a little bit before you get to the meat of the story. I’ve read a few other police/mystery books which were pretty good but now with Connelly being one of the top crime writers in the world, I wanted to stick with his work to really get into the genre.

It’s made me want to take a stab at writing crime stories. Who knows, maybe I’d be pretty good at it. Connelly does an impressive amount of research for his novels seeing as he hasn’t been the police in his career but he’s worked with them. He’s done a very good job at describing the little details that could make or break a crime writer’s career because real cops who read the stories and see the obvious mistakes that could’ve been avoided had a little research been done would immediately be turned off to that author. Similar to cop TV dramas, if something is blatantly fake or unrealistic that could’ve been avoided had they accurately tried to portray the police, real police don’t want to watch it because they get aggravated by how improperly their profession is portrayed.

The key to winning over cops is to accurately portray their profession and involve the real drama they’ve seen or heard about. If you’re going to write about any career, you need to get it right if you want them to watch it and recommend it. For example, shows like Southland and the Wire have been described as the best police dramas in recent history. Displaying the real lives of street cops and surveillance detectives, these series get as close to the real thing as you can without watching Cops or Live PD. I highly recommend these two shows as I’ve watched them over and over again and they only get better. Chicago PD and The Rookie are very fake, cookie cutter, and too PC to show the reality of police work. They’re just dramas set in a squad car. I had high hopes for The Rookie but the FTO process they showed and the interactions between officers was too unrealistic. Easy things were missed and it really took me out of it. Plus, some of the characters were aggravating to watch.

Crime fiction is a great genre to keep you on the edge of your seat and keep you turning the pages. They mysteries, the drama, and the human psyche all play major roles and keep the stories rolling. They also get you close to the one of the most exciting professions. There’s a reason policing has been described as “a front-row seat to the greatest show on Earth.”

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