Bad news sells better than good news. In my past, I’ve worked for a radio station and listeners react to dire news, like calamitous events and violent crimes, with far more passion than they do reports on amiable things. As a writer and reader of suspense, I often wonder what fascinates me about crime, aside from the thrill of solving the mystery. I’m intrigued by the psychology, the brain, its wiring, especially when it’s wired wrong. Not so much the crime itself, but what makes bad people do the terrible things they do.
I think about the life of a cop and the daily dangers they face. I ask my own fictional detectives how they keep going when they know they will get up every morning and face murderers, drug dealers, spousal abusers, burglars. What drives them, in fiction and in the real world?
When I wrote my first book, Madness and Murder, I accompanied a very helpful and patient detective, Deputy Janecka, on a nighttime ridealong and got a peek into his world. He took me as close as he could to the action without endangering me, and showed me many of the different hazardous scenarios he deals with. Frightened? Yes, I was. I couldn’t do what he does every day, and it gave me a lot of respect for his profession.
This week, while working on the re-writes for my 3rd mystery, Hide and Seek, I stepped back into his world for research on drug dealing, bugging phones, stealing cars and a variety of murder weapons, but there is a huge difference in sitting behind the computer Googling the information and being out there in the real world, like Deputy Janecka, dealing with it face to face.
Like real detectives, my fictional cops love getting a bad guy off the streets; the inspirational balance to the negative. Most of us love a happy ending, to see the villain get what he (or she) deserves. I love the investigation, following the trail of clues, the unexpected plot twists, and the hunt for the murderer.
What fascinates you about crime?