The Connection between Crime Fiction and Fact

There’s nothing as good as reading a racy crime thriller, one that will make your adrenaline soar high as you turn the pages to discover who the perpetrator is and how the good guy brings him/her to book. But some people prefer to watch crime dramas and movies on television and the big screen, and the likes of CSI and Bones keep them entertained not only because of the way the characters are portrayed but also because they weave a compelling whodunit. In fact, some crimes are so exquisitely scripted that we are sometimes forced to wonder if the writers are taking liberties with the fact that they are creating fiction – we question the reality of such crimes taking place.

But the fact is that reality is more often than not stranger than fiction – while fiction has to stay true to fact, fact has no such rules to conform to. It can keep getting stranger and stranger, and if the perpetrator is able to pull it off, we wonder at the audacity and weirdness of the crime instead of questioning its authenticity.

There are also instances of fact mimicking fiction – we’ve heard of criminals stealing ideas from little-known and famous crime novels to see if they can make it work. Their MO is similar to the one used by the villain in the book or television series, and if they’re clever enough to know how to erase their tracks, they get away with the crime.

One very significant difference between factual and fictional crime is the way in which it is solved – fictional crimes are almost always solved, unless the writer wants to leave the storyline open for a sequel or for other reasons. In fact, the clues that are found are such that basic and complicated deductions can be made so that a combination of clever reasoning and sheer luck leads the good guys to the bad guys who are nabbed with or without a fight.

But when it comes to solving crime in real life, there are more unsolved cases than those that have been closed because the criminal has been found and brought to book. While some cases remain open for indeterminate periods of time and become cold, others are closed because the wrong person is caught and penalized while the real criminal gets away scot free.

Also, it is much harder to solve a crime in real life because clues are not really forthcoming and forensics investigations take a longer time than shown on television or read in books. While this may not seem like a really big deal, those in law enforcement often have a hard time explaining to victims of crime and their families why they’re not able to solve the case with a snap of their fingers “as seen on TV”.

It has been this way for many years and will continue to be this way as long as crime exists – fact will imitate fiction even as fiction finds its inspiration from fact.