The Appeal of Crime and Suspense


What is it about these two genres that people like?

The Appeal of Crime and Suspense

These days, people seem to be attracted to crime and suspense genres. The question is, what is it about these two genres that seem to draw almost everyone to them?

In a Prezi presentation, Kevin Holman enumerates three things that compel people to read suspense stories:

  • Unpredictability—Readers (and the characters) have no clue on what’s going to happen next. Authors make sure to write their stories with just the right amount of uncertainty to catch readers hook, line, and sinker, encouraging them to stick around until the end.
  • Anxiety—No suspense story is complete without this element. Authors want readers to feel just as scared as the characters do in their stories. Anxiety and unpredictability is an intriguing combination that is sure to keep readers glued to the pages.
  • Hope—Every reader is a sucker for some sort of silver lining in the end. Tie this in together with enough unpredictability and anxiety, and you have a compelling suspense story.

The Appeal of Crime and Suspense2

People’s interest toward the two genres isn’t limited toward books. Crime and suspense seem to have taken over television shows and movies as well. Criminologist and college professor Scott Bonn credits true crime shows for triggering fear, which he describes as “the most basic and powerful emotion in all of us.” He also believes that true crime shows are the guilty pleasures of thrill-seeking adult audiences.

It feels wrong or inappropriate for us to delight in the horrors inflicted on real people in true crime shows. Yet many of us relish watching these shows anyway. But although we may feel a bit guilty about indulging in them, we simply cannot stop.

According to Cavender and Jurik (2014), people enjoy the crime genre because of the following reasons:

  • They take delight in puzzles.
  • The genre gives them an escape from the pressures of life.
  • Its realistic style appeals to them.
  • They wish for a world where justice prevails.
  • They like how the genre addresses social issues.

Whatever the reason, the love for crime and suspense doesn’t seem to be fading out anytime soon.




Holman, Kevin. “What Attracts People to Stories of Suspense.” Prezi. August 22, 2014. Accessed November 4, 2016.


Bonn, Scott. “Why We Are Drawn to True Crime Shows.” Time, January 8, 2016. Accessed November 4, 2016.


Cavender, Gray, and Nancy C. Jurik. 2014. “The Appeal of the Crime Genre.” Oxford Handbooks Online in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Accessed November 4, 2016. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199935383.013.004.



One response to “The Appeal of Crime and Suspense

  1. Can I just say what a relief to find someone who actually knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people need to read this and understand this side of the story. I cant believe youre not more popular because you definitely have the gift.

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