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'G' is for girl

29 February 2016

The latest fashion in women's writing is explored in this article we provide a link to this week. The authors think that the rash of bestselling books with ‘Girl' in the title are appealing to a female crime fiction audience and they're probably right, but these books are also the heirs to a longer tradition.

So what's new about these books? Perhaps it is their edginess but it's also their unreliable narrator main characters and their tough independence. They have inherited a niche from what used to be called ‘women in jeopardy' stories, which have a long history as part of a popular stream of romantic suspense. But these days they have more violence, more sex and the women have more tricky lives, although they still toy with the theme of the dangerous male and whether he can be trusted or actually threatens the heroine.

With Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl the novelty of the plot, which made it attractive, was that you could never be quite sure which of the two main characters was being truthful, although the film did seem to favour the husband.

The other difference is that the contemporary heroine has morphed into a female hero and taken over the most active role in the story. The influence of movie roles such as those played by the actor Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games in changing the way this genre works is considerable.

And after all crime fiction sells primarily to women, even though it has traditionally been thought of as a male genre.