A Book Explorer's Odyssey : Three crime novels

【明報專訊】It can be said that western crime fiction owes its existence to a social phenomenon quite similar to that of the rise of Chinese martial arts works. According to The Cambridge Companion to Crime Fiction, it was "the absence of any reliable system of policing, or of the detection of criminals on any routine basis" that contributed to the suffusion of crime in the literature of the eighteenth century. Whereas Chinese writers conjured up universes where some sword-wielding, sky-crossing practitioners of kung fu tackle corrupt officials, thugs and local tyrants, western writers created private detectors such as Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot to solve cases perpetuated by the most cunning criminals, in both cases the shared backdrop being an imperfect justice system.