clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Sunday, September 21, 2014


At left, a not very good picture of a garbage truck. Turns out, finding a free picture of a garbage truck is harder than you think. I'm glad for this one from Morguefile.

My process begins by deciding on a crime. Murder, extortion, arson, whatever.

I work out the crime's premise, the likely characters I want to cast in the story, their motivations, unresolved conflicts, past attitudes and experiences which intrude on the present, all of it. I am the god of my realm and I have to know the story in order to give the small delicate pieces of it to my reader.

What has bothered my for decades is the almost casual treatment of the corpse in crime fiction. Somebody gets killed and the body is either ignored with no real consequence or it is hauled away by the proper authorities who are efficient and go about the work with blinders on to our protagonist's involvement.

Try walking under the "police line" tape at a real murder. See where that gets you.

Anyway, the body is a problem. You do crime. You make a corpse. Most of the time, we need that corpse to go away.

Cities like Detroit have problems dealing with the volume of bodies. It can take hours to get rid of the corpse. Fine. That's "through the proper channels."

What about not going through proper channels.

I'm getting very interested in a Crow - a guy who cleans up after the crime. Sure, I have problems with the angles. Somebody shooting their spouse wouldn't call the Crow.

Secret Agent Man would - but that's not all that interesting to me right now.

I'm rolling over the ideas of the guy who works for a living getting rid of the body. Pulp Fiction had Winston Wolfe. He was a glamour boy.

What about the workaday fellow who legitimately knows where the bodies are buried?

There is something there in it and I'm not quite sure of the approach but it keeps coming back to me every couple months. There has to be an angle for me with a character that I can live with for a while.

He's a special sort of person. Maybe it isn't a guy.

Thursday is trash day in my neighborhood. Wave at the guys when you see them.

They work hard, do an honest job, and get rid of the bodies ...maybe.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Sort of a fixer/cleaner character...yes, those are cool. My type of mystery doesn't have those, but I like reading about them.

jack welling said...

I think there is room for another "fixer" in the genre. The trick is to do it well and right now, my Crow is just a memory rash that keeps coming back. There's something here if I can avoid cliche and predictable.

Now, a quilting instructor at the sewing and scrap booking store... That is a new approach! "Miriam Cleans Up" as the first story.

It needs to work along the unexpected lines. Maybe someone with freezer space. Ice cream shop? Maybe.