If you're not careful while reading detective fiction, you're liable to learn something. While taking the reader for a ride before solving the mystery, the best writers in the field have something to say, about a city, a profession, a just cause, a moral climate.
- NYTimes Book Review, 1992
We invite our readers to revisit the above, quoted in Issue #4's "Crime Part I." After this issue's pocket anthology, the essay, "Crime II" is available for readers to reflect upon.
"Criminal elements" has been used as a sometime snooty euphemism for the perceived reek of lower class-ness that persons who commit crimes are supposed to have, as opposed to the hypocritical discretion of white collar criminals. We leave it to you to frolic in the vagueries of such linguistic finery. For, any way you cut it, the characters in the following works are about to flout, or have aready flouted, the law. They've perhaps only knicked a little something or majorly transgressed. Sinned, by golly. But is sin against the law? THOU SHALT NOT! But thee/they do, didst and will do anyhow. One might speculate as to how the mix of commandments from the three major monotheisms, yes, contributed to and comingled with secular law—or failed to do so: in some places, for example, one can sue for divorce on the grounds of adultery, but not get locked up for the same. In other places or times, the penalty is/was severe—death by stoning. Then there is suicide, once against the law in the US: a disconnect in logic if there ever was one, for who was the law to penalize if the suicidee succeeded? Suvivors suffer quite enough without the intervention of the state. For that matter, one might ask, what is the state, anyhow? those rules that supposedly keep social chaos at bay are kind of messy, make no allowance for poverty, for the case of the village idiot who knows not what he does, for the abused woman who finally stops her torment the only way she can...
Beyond an almost obsessive exploration of evil on the part of some of our writers, we do like our mysteries, our whodunits, and the pleasure of finding out, in fact, whodunit. We also seem to like to crawl into the world of transgression and retribution. The more atmosphere, the better. Of course, it is not so simple; but nothing is as reassuring, in a "real" world where justice is not always served, to know that the transgressor can't hide from that indefatigable bloodhound, the fictional sleuth.
Few if any crime novels address any other criminal act but the one that violates both religion and the secular state's dicta—murder. With some more or less successful sideswipes at corruption in the halls of those who are enjoined to serve justice, the authors want us to know, Thou Shalt Not Kill!
from Milk of Annesia Tom Carney
from Charlie Gruber, from a work in progress, Allen Learst
"The Call of the Flesh," Amir Ahmadi Arian
We also suggest, for fans of old time radio who wish a delightful tingle, a series of old radio programs with Basil Rathbone as Sherlock: if you care to follow others, archive.org has amassed a collection of old radio programs available for free at https://archive.org/. Scroll down till you find "Old Time Radio."
If only they had collected The Shadow, a thirties program with one of the most delicious intro lines in an albeit rather unsettling voice for one dedicated to catching crooks: "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows....hahahahahaha." The Shadow can, however, be found lurking at
(For the referenced, "Crime II," and more ruminations on the relationship of detection and the state, see essay following this collection.)