Friday, September 02, 2016

Psychopaths and Sociopaths

I did a lot of strange research for my up-coming mystery, Fractured Families, which will be published March 2017. This is the first book to feature a serial killer.

My mysteries have varied from one type to another. That is probably not a good idea. It wasn't planned. It's just the way the stories have worked out. Deadly Descent is more of a traditional mystery with a healthy dollop of suspense. Lethal Lineage is a locked room mystery. It was the pits to write and more than a little scary from a construction viewpoint. Locked room mysteries are fiendishly difficult to write and the readers are a savage lot. They pounce on any inconsistency.

Hidden Heritage contained a secret. Back to a more traditional mystery again, with a strong mix of history. It dealt with water rights which will soon be the most lethal worldwide fight in this century.

The impetus to write each book has involved a powerful image. In the case of Deadly Descent it was a line from my favorite book of poetry, The Spoon River Anthology. A woman was standing in the crowd murmuring, "my son, my son," while a politician was giving a speech. With Lethal Lineage it was a female priest dropping the chalice during communion. The image in Hidden Heritage was that of a man drowning in a livestock truckline's washout pit.

For the new one, Fractured Families. . . well, let's just say a totally soulless serial killer was essential.

The words psychopaths and sociopaths are used interchangeably. Usually. Mostly. My editor asked for the proper word for describing my villain and I chose psychopath rather than sociopath because of the work done by some psychiatrists who describe psychopaths as being the more organized and intelligent of the two. And scarily enough quite a number of them had loving families.

In fact, most psychopaths and sociopaths are not killers. But they can sure play thunder in the workplace and in people's lives. One of most fascinating books was Snakes In Suits which described the chaos caused in the workplace by evil calculating persons who don't hesitate to ruin others' career and cause havoc.

I'm a rather peaceful soul by nature. I hope the image for my next book is something less scary.


Charlotte Hinger said...

Thanks. It was really unsettling reading.

Irene Bennett Brown said...

Wow! Wow! Wow! Can hardly wait for Fractured Families --er, the new book.