Trope Thursday: Crime Families [7]

Trope Thursdays: A monthly feature where I look at various reading tropes. Each month I will pick a trope and examine all aspects of it. I’ll discuss the classic features of the trope, what I love (or hate) about it and share some books that use the trope in their plots.

So I haven’t been the most proactive about getting these posts out on a monthly basis but that’s ok! I’m back this month with a new trope!

I dunno how I came up with this trope but it was on my list of topics for the year. I think as a society we have this fascination with the law and the people who break it. You see it everywhere from court trials of infamous cases to fictional TV shows based on crimes (Criminal Minds, Law and Order, CSI) to the people/families who commit the crimes (Sons of Anarchy, The Sopranos). I know I’m a sucker for a good “crime family” story and I’ll explain why below.

October’s Trope: Crime Families


crime family is a unit of an organized crime syndicate, particularly the Mafia (both in Sicily and in the United States), often operating within a specific geographic territory. In its strictest sense, a family (or clan) is a criminal gang, operating either on a unitary basis or as an organized collection of smaller gangs (e.g., cellsfactionscrews, etc.). In turn, a family can be a sole “enterprise”, or part of a larger syndicate or cartel.

~Wikipedia (“Crime Family“)


For the sake of this post, I’m sticking with books or series that involve families that perform syndicated crime. I’m not focusing on characters that have had run-ins with the law or simply have a criminal past. I’m focusing on books that have organized groups that perform crimes.

Common Features:

  • Dark love
  • Possibility for Forbidden/Taboo Love
  • Loyalty
  • Violence
  • Crimes
  • Mafia
  • Revenge
  • Motorcycle Clubs
  • Debts to be Paid

What I Like About The “Crime Families” Trope:

I love books that have me on the edge of my seat and I find books that centre around crime families have that suspense to them. You never know who to trust; there’s always the risk of mortal danger; and the stakes always seem to be higher. It makes for a thrilling read.

I’m a sucker for a good villain and I find your crime family stories supply some truly evil and despicable bad guys.

I also like the aspect of family and loyalty to that family. Some of these families can be so dysfunctional that they work so it’s a neat aspect to watch unfold. They say blood is thicker than water and I think that always rings true in novels that focus around crime families.

What I Dislike About The “Crime Families” Trope:

I sometimes find that the books can go too far with the “shock factor” and things seem out of hand. Then that just makes the whole plot seem ridiculous.

While I do enjoy the occasional dark romance, I sometimes find romances in crime family stories really straddle that line of toxic and unhealthy. Yes, fiction is fiction but I don’t overly enjoy how normalized and romanticized some of these toxic relationships get in these books.

Books that Use the “Crime Families” Trope Well:

Perhaps one of the darkest novels I’ve ever read, I loved this serialized series for many reasons. A kick-butt heroine bent on revenge, a passionate romance and some pretty dire circumstances, this novel will keep you on your toes! It’s the darker side of a motorcycle club.

>>Series Review: Gypsy Brothers


This series is all about family and the loyalty you feel to that family (or maybe why you don’t). There’s just so many layers to this series and it provides ample character development throughout. Add to it an overarching plot with the motorcycle club and you’ve got yourself one wild ride.

>>Series Review: Thunder Road


Others: Son of the Mob  |  Heist Society

Books that Didn’t Use the “Crime Families” Trope Well:

This series is here for two reasons: 1) the somewhat abusive romance and 2) the boring leads. Sometimes I thought these two had great chemistry and then our “hero” would “show his dominance” and it just turned me off immediately. It was cringe-worthy–even though I had prepared myself for the darker romance.

>>Series Review: Kingpin Love Affair


“You know when teenagers attempt to act like adults and it just makes everything a little awkward? That’s what the plot is in this story.”

Everything here is super over dramatic thanks to the young ages of the cast. It just pushed the drama and the like over the top and made everything seem unbelievable. I think if this was a New Adult Series with older leads, it would have been better. This was definitely a guilty pleasure read for me because it’s like a bad, cheesy TV show.

>>Series Review: Made Men


Others: Once Upon a Crime Family  |  Crossing Stars

Do you enjoy books with the “Crime Families” Trope?

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