# 276: Crime Stories
Story behind the Passage
Today, I had a car crash. Well, actually, I knocked over a street sign and that street sign hit a car. It was not anything major and actually, it turned out as the story of the day! I met a wonderful person, the car owner, and then I met some wonderful cops. Actually, we had a really nice conversation, fixed the issue, and exchanged business cards. Yes, you are hearing me correctly. The cops gave me their business cards, I gave them my ID card, of course! How cute is that, right? Well, they gave their card to me so they could write down the reference number of the incident. And then, at the end, one of the guys told me that I should not do this again! This was very official and he had to say it because knocking over street signs was an infringement and therefore kind of a criminal act that needs prevention.
One of the most remarkable moments of that encounter actually happened at the beginning when the police finally arrived. They came with a big bus and three guys jumped out in full armor. In that very first instant, I was reminderd of the numberless movies you watch in the course of your life when this exact same scene happens. Not even talking about the numberless crime novels you might have read. In sum, all these police stories for most people only happen in the fictional world of their imagination and when they do happen in real life, you are immediately reminded of this other world stored in your memory. And that got me thinking about the fact that crime stories have so much power — simply as stories. Some even study them.
“The commission and detection of crime, with the motives, actions, arraignment, judgement, and punishment of a criminal, is one of the great paradigms of narrative.” Anybody would probably agree. From childhood onwards, we learnt that crime stories and mysteries are scary and that is exactly why they are so appealing. What I am asking myself when reading this sentence, however, is whether it is the crime or the people that fascinate us more. I know, this is a stupid question to ask, because the beauty of a good narrative is based on the mixture of both and many more elements. So, there is no general “more or less” — everything needs to be in harmony. In addition, some people always pay more attention to the characters and some more to the action. Still, there is something very special about the fact that people do something wrong and the heroes of the story, either policemen or laypersons, get to chase them — they get to solve the mystery.
Actually, I know someone who studies crime fiction in her Ph.D. and whenever she talks about this, she also talks about how weird it is to be attracted by exactly this kind of literature. But it is not weird at all, I think. Most people like crime — just not in their own lives. And I guess, people who have a lot of crime in their real life do not necessarily want to read or watch it. This is actually what I would like to ask the policemen from today. “Do you read crime fiction in your free time?” Our encounter today definitely was not the right moment to ask this question…. This would probably have been the reason why they would not have let me go. Assessment: insane or drunk! Maybe I will get another chance, though. I did a book project with a police woman once but it failed miserably. If I get a second try, I want to learn more about the real people chasing real criminals.
I am just afraid of the stories that emerge from this.
They will end up on paper at some point, that is for sure.
Just like anything that writers see, feel, and think…
1) Do you like crime novels? Which ones in particular?
2) Do you think that people usually look for the opposite of their “real lives” in literature and movies, i.e., policemen do not seek crime but people with a less adventurous life do?
3) When was the last time that you dealt with the police?