clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Unfortunate Demise

At left, the factory floor for we crime writers. [ Photo P.J.L. Laurens]

We have the body.

There are stories about extortion, arson, kidnapping, even rape.

Murder is my speed. I like a body. I don't need to see the killing on the page; but, I do like a body there.

I was thinking on the way home tonight of all the great body reveals I've read. We're starting the story, maybe know the protagonist, and boom: we're at the crime scene.

In the procedural, we're about the steps through the maze to find the killer.

I don't think I care about that anymore. Sorry to say I like to know the cause of death. I like to know the reason for death. The "who" part doesn't do nearly as much for me.

Professor Plum in the Library with the Candlestick. I rather like the image of murder by candlestick. The good professor means less to me.

So, I'm driving tonight and reflecting on this seeming disconnect coupled with what I know of my own mental state. It came to me then.

We have detective driven - compelled - by an unseen conviction to pursue the cause of murder as if on a holy crusade. Wallander of Henning Mankell's pen seems an apt example. The man is a mess. [ Disclaimer: My son married a Swede.]. Nevertheless, he is "devoted" to the cause of catching murderers in precisely the manner in which Ahab sought the white whale. [ disclaimer: whale tastes good.]

So, I'm contemplating the detective without compulsion.

Seems like a bit of a challenge to create a character that might be likable by the reader but whose emotions do not flow to any personal connection. Doesn't mean they cannot be the object of unrequited love.

Off to write. Snow tonight. Maybe six inches. Maybe more Lovely.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I'm like you--I want to see a murder. To doesn't really feel like a mystery without a body. Of course they *are* still mysteries...just not as much fun to me.

A detective without compulsion...interesting! So...just a job to him? Just doing the 9-5 thing and gets dragged into cases to a certain degree? Not much like that out there. Hamish Macbeth, a lovable, lazy Scottish policeman in MC Beaton's books has some of those traits. All he wants to do is fish. The cool thing is that you could create conflict with a character like that merely by making him spend more time working. :)

jack welling said...

I forgot all about Hamish ! I read a pair of these on a long cross-county commute a few years back. Completely slipped my mind.

I think the first setting will be in a secure research facility ... one doing work on a fusion initiator (unlike the national ignition facility which is about as public-facing as you can get). So, two body mystery. Killed by ...radiation surge. Detective likes the mystery of "how" much more than the "who" though in the end both things come together in one person.

How many people know how to induce pulse criticality in a fission device? Inside a top secret nuclear research facility: everyone!

Thanks for reminding me of Hamish! Brought a smile.