Tiring Crime Thriller Tropes

I have had to read a lot of rubbish crime novels during my time running this blog. Many of which I will never review on here because they were that bad or just so forgettable I didn’t feel the need to review them. So here are a few tropes that I have seen floating around in almost every mass market bad crime novel I have read, or as I like to call this list, How to Write a Best Selling Crime Novel Marketed to Middle Aged Women

1.Mister Red Flag

Of all the tropes on this list I think this one is the worst. He is charming, gorgeous and mysterious, and of course the main character is married or was married to him. The annoying thing about this trope is how mysterious he is. The main character knows very little or nothing at all about his family or background. He can disappear for days and write it off as “work” and no one questions it until later in the novel, just like his strange rapey sexual interests that the main character feels like they have to take part in. And of course he has a bad temper.

Of course no questions any of the above until they find that secret mobile phone, laptop or newspaper clipping about their husband’s murdered ex stashed somewhere in the house.

Why did anyone marry this guy?

2. The Stupid Career Woman

I don’t know what it is about female main characters in crime novels but they somehow manage to have massively successful careers while also being painfully stupid. This is the woman who married Mister Red Flag after all. These career women usually have everything going for them until they meet Mister Red Flag and then they turn into a doormat. Of course Mister Red Flag also has lots of problems with her career or one of her co-workers. She is usually childless and keeps thinking about how she might want kids with Mister Red Flag, because that will fix it all, right?
Bonus trope points if she is a reporter or writer.

3. Unnecessary Crudeness and No One is Likable

Romance is dead in these novels. When the main character thinks about the first time she met her husband it is usually a sexual story with no romance at all. The unhealthy relationship with Mister Red Flag is just a matter of convince for both of them to begin with. No one really likes each other and there is usually a happy couple somewhere in the book who gets hated on by the main character in their thought track. I worry about whoever writes these books because they always have such a bleak outlook on life and relationships.

4. The Secondary Phone/Laptop

As mentioned in the previous points Mister Red Flag normally has a secondary device stashed somewhere in the house that is littered with evidence. I have one question: Why hasn’t he thrown it out? I am sure the book has a thousand excuses for that but who leaves evidence like that just sitting around?

5. Lets Blame the Victim

Did she sleep around? Get an abortion? Was she a teenage runaway? Did she accidentally kill a child? Or was she just reckless and free? You will probably find one of these topics come up when our Stupid Career Woman starts digging into our victim’s past. Of course the writer is going to do their best to make whatever Mister Red Flag did to the victim seem like it wasn’t entirely his fault. She was a temptress who just happened to look innocent on the surface, because of course no one can be likable in these novels.

And of course the victim is younger, breathtakingly beautiful and more successful than our Stupid Career woman, she will point that out a lot in her thought track.

I could go on about this for a while but I think I will leave it at these 5 main points. Have you noticed these tropes before? What are your least favourite crime novel tropes?

3 thoughts on “Tiring Crime Thriller Tropes”

  1. Omg I totally laughed my way through this whole post! This is exactly why I have a hard time with crime novels for the most part – these character types are everywhere! The woman seems strong but is a total doormat. Guy is mysterious but there’s something just “not right” about him (which everyone feels but still they fall in love). Then they’re both so stupid but yet smart enough to have a burner phone hidden in a ceiling tile.
    “But she was a teenage runaway that did drugs once and sometimes made bad choices” ….. like those things made her ask to be murdered??
    Gah!!! Glad these things make you crazy too!!

    1. Thank you haha.

      Wrap it all up in a cover with some sort of flowy liquid in water cover and you have a best seller for people to read while stuck in the airport because that is where people usually buy these books.

      The victim blaming makes me so mad. So if you are pretty and “free” you should die?

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