UK readers love a good mystery.
Last year crime fiction became the country’s bestselling genre – beating out general and literary fiction (ie everything else).
According to Nielsen Bookscan data, sales of crime novels rose have risen by 19% since 2015, reaching 18.7m in 2017.
18.7 million is a lot of detective stories.
This appetite for classic Whodunnits is taking over the small screen too. UK TV has been enjoying an Agatha Christie revival of late – screening a glossy adaptation of And Then There Were None last Christmas and, more recently, Ordeal by Innocence.
So why has everyone suddenly developed an appetite for crime?
My very unscientific and unproven theory is thus: the more chaotic the world becomes, the more people love a mystery.
Because what’s more comforting than wrapping up a seemingly unsolveable crime in 200 pages (or an 8-episode special)?
The formulaic plot is soothing in its simplicity – a horrible crime occurs, a charismatic detective gets the case, a hapless criminal is caught, the whole thing unravels.
Everyone loves the satisfying denouement of finding out that it was Colonel Mustard in the drawing room, with a lead pipe.
If only world crises could be as easily averted.
So given that environmental threats are steadily escalating, the situation in the Middle East continues to simmer, and the global political landscape grows more uncertain by the day, I fully expect even more crime novels to fly off the shelves in future.