Thursday, January 11, 2007

Reality vs. Life

Vicki here on my new regular posting day of Thursday.

Do mystery lovers, readers and writers, sometimes take violent and sudden death too glibly? I don’t read cosies largely because I think that a lot of them (not all) treat death as a light-hearted, clever little game. I generally avoid mystery books that play with puns in their title – like a tea cup or a picture of a cat on the cover, it’s a signal to me that the subject of death will not be treated seriously. I read a LOT of mysteries, and I like them pretty hard.

In Rick’s books the protagonists struggle psychologically with what happens to them during the book or before the action begins. Victoria Morgan is heavily damaged by her experiences in Cemetery of the Nameless. Michael Quinn is haunted by an incident more than twenty years before the action begins in When Hell Freezes Over.

Charles’ books are light and funny, but he takes the attitude that ‘everyone has one adventure in him’ and his books are not series. If the somewhat inept central character of Relative Danger kept stumbling over dead bodies, he’d quickly lose the appeal that his innocent charm has for me.

Police stories, such as Barbara’s Inspector Green, are altogether another kettle of fish. (Why is fish cooked in a kettle, I find myself wondering?) It’s the nature of the job – in reality and in fiction – that cops keep dealing with death. In the best police stories, of which Ian Rankin and Peter Robinson and many others excel, the cop characters are conflicted over their jobs and often, gradually, start burning out, becoming cynical.

What is she talking about? you might now be asking.

I have a very sad funeral to attend this weekend (I am close to the mother of the deceased, not the deceased himself). I won’t provide any details, except to say that the death was the sort that involved forensic investigators. Which I guess just got me thinking about whether or not we sometimes make a game out of violence and grief.

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