Thrillers can thrill but violence numbs

Girl onthetrain

The setting reminded me of the six-hour journey (two-way) I used to take while commuting the Oxford-London route everyday for work a few years ago. I knew the people in the story, because I saw them from my train window too.

Having just finished reading Paula Hawkins’ debut novel Girl on the Train with a good pace  and thriller-like quality, I also came away slightly nauseated from all the gore. Is there a purpose to violence in fiction? Isn’t real life hard enough, violent enough, with all the guns and violence everywhere? How much thrift should a writer expend in gore and sex? Shouldn’t there be more room for the imagination in novels? Or does more imagination translate to lower readership? Sigh, difficult choices. A hard place to be, a harder place for writers to be in. I guess, that’s my only problem with whodunnits that chill the blood in my skull. Agatha Christie somehow set a high benchmark in matters of mystery, if I remember correctly. Her focus used to be on the mental/psychological workings of the murderer (murder and murdered), and the build up and slow (cleverly engineered) postmortem, rather than the brutality of the act itself.

To know about the publishing records Paula Hawkins has broken in the UK, selling over 800,000 copies since January, please read more on the BookMachine blog.

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