Fatherland Review: Crime Fiction is Boring & Clichéd

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by Robert Harris

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

A thoroughly drab reinforcement of why I can’t enjoy crime fiction, no matter how many Nazis are involved.

I understand that this was written a while ago, but it doesn’t get the protagonist out of the troubled detective with a drinking/smoking problem and a thing for leather coats club.

Every time a cliché appeared- roughly every page- I sighed, and, every time a character died I wished they were me. I’m glad Hitler didn’t win the war because, despite the obvious repercussions on my own existence, it means that the world was saved from having yet another boring detective.

Sorry, Robert.

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Why I don’t like Crime Fiction

I’ve never given crime fiction a chance. I’m saying that now because I don’t want you to be disappointed when you read further into what is going to be an incredibly biased opinion based on no facts. My lack of interest in crime expands to other forms of storytelling, too, and my opinion of crime drama and film is often the same. Is there such thing as a crime film, or are they just called thrillers? No one gives a shit. With the exception of Luther, I don’t like ‘em.


Maybe I’m reading the wrong kind of crime/detective stories, but all the ones I have done so far have been boring and samey. Having the detective as a troubled soul seems compulsory, and the ways in which those souls can be troubled are very limited. There’s always a smoking/drinking/drugs problem that’s born from troublesome family/work relationships. The most appealing one of these troubles I’ve seen in a while is the PS4 detective game Murdered: Soul Suspect, who is fucking dead for the entirety of the game, but I’d struggle to find that appealing in prose form.

Even Luther falls into this. Although I still like the series for some other more positive elements we may never talk about, it feels like someone has just poured some lukewarm tea on my favourite jumper when it dawns that, just like every other crime-based thing, it has used a cast-iron method of troublesomeness for their troublesomenessed detective, and that is a sad thing.

My opinion could be incorrect but probably isn’t

I dislike disliking things more than I dislike crime fiction, so I don’t want this to be a permanent opinion. I want someone to change my mind. Their are two books which I think may do that, but my reservations about the genre are still holding me back.

The first is the Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Series. Yes, there seem to be some tropes I can spot before reading, but there must be something there to justify the amount of enthusiasm for Scandinavian crime. Is reading this going to change my mind, or will it further enforce how shit I think crime is? Is it true of Scan-Crime that, whatever the novel, the right-wing politician did it? So many questions.

The other is Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon. There’s definite appeal in the sci-fi nature of the story that suggests it could be more interesting than what other crime has to offer:

people can be “shelved” and then later “resleeved” into new bodies. For the super-rich, known as Meths (or Methuselahs), it’s possible to remain young and healthy for hundreds of years, just regrowing a new body whenever you want one. So when someone apparently murders wealthy asshole Laurens Bancroft, he just gets resleeved in a new body soon afterwards. But he still wants to know who killed him, so he hires/enslaves former soldier and current convict Takeshi Kovacs, giving Kovacs a new body…        io9

Sounds better. but then,

…which happens to have a nicotine addicition

Yep, crime is shit.


Let me know if there are any crime books/TV dramas/films that could change my mind.

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