Deconstructing the crime genre through five masterpieces
How are the great crime novels of our age written? What kind of mechanisms are triggered in a thriller in order to make the reader want to keep on reading? Marco Malvaldi, Italian crime writer and author of books like La briscola in cinque (2007) and Il re dei giochi (2010), presented five key works in the detective story canon at the Biblioteca Baratta. The first book Malvadi presented was Enigma in luogo di mare by Fruttero & Lucentini. The elements that make this work as a great thriller are the characters described, who are credible and easy to identify with. The two authors were able to make these characters spin within the plot, distracting readers and moving their focus away from the real murder, whose identity was hiding just behind the corner for the entire book.
The second book presented by Malvaldi was Les Scélérats by Frédéric Dard, a crime novel characterised by essential writing and a plot that mixes different genres. Ordeal by Innocence by Agatha Christie was the third masterpiece Malvaldi talked about. A book that can be considered the first psychological detective story, where the attention is centred on the characters’ gestures when they interact with one another. Some Buried Caesar by Rex Stout is, according to Malvaldi, a manual on how to write a true crime story. The motive behind the murder of a breeding bull represents the key novel’s key plot point. Lastly, The End is Known by Geoffrey Holiday Hall was the final book presented by Malvaldi. This story starts from the end: a boy kills himself by jumping from the window of a married couple’s flat and this is the starting point of the thriller. Malvaldi concluded the event revealing the element that brings together all these authors: they are not just writers of crime novels, they are magicians who are able to masterfully lead the reader’s attention where they want it which, in most cases, is in the opposite direction to solving the mystery.