Everything I know about Crime
I have an obsession.
In the last ten years I have been closely involved in over four hundred murders. It is how I choose to relax.
It has taught me many lessons.
I have dealt with strangers in the back streets of Edinburgh and Glasgow, learnt how to hide bodies in most major Scandinavian cities and a few minor ones come to that. I now know not to try to dispose of victims in the canals of Venice (they float) and witnessed my student hometown washed with blood.
Crammed inside my Kindle is the result of ten years’ worth of compulsive ‘clicking’.
I seem to no longer consciously ‘buy’ from Amazon I just ‘click’ and my next fix is there ready inside my device waiting to feed my addiction.
My fix is a crime novel.
I am a speed reader which is normally quite harmless but with a Kindle I live from page to page in danger of getting RSI in my tapping finger. It has also meant that I often buy the same book as many as three times as no sooner have I read than I have completely forgotten the plot and so a few weeks later I buy it again.
So what I have learnt?
A surprising amount in fact. I am now very familiar with the geography of Edinburgh and Glasgow thanks to continuous binge reading of ‘tartan noir’. Crime writers in Scotland remain very true to their local environment and tend not to move the pieces of the landscape around too much. However, I am amazed that the detectives they write about don’t keep bumping into each other as they rush depressed and divorced in and out of the same police stations in hot pursuit of different plot lines.
Before I start to gorge myself on another decade’s worth of crime I thought that I would share, whether you like it or not, some of the remarkable things that all these hundreds of novels have in common. Yes, in common.
Yellow legal pads appear in almost every crime novel I have read coming out of America and I have no idea why this should be. The only ‘tablets’ that appear are swallowed usually dry to deal with yet another hangover fuelled by ennui and twenty-year-old whiskey drunk straight from the bottle which is swiftly returned to the bottom drawer of their cluttered or OCD tidy desk.
Nordic crime fighters seem to be solely fuelled by cinnamon buns which they consume in industrial quantities whilst contemplating suicide, their own not the victims. Such has been the cross over impact of Scandinavian pastries that I have actually learnt how to make them myself.
Fortunately, my expanding waistline prevents me from contemplating anything except my expanding waistline.
At some point usually a third of the way into the book all detectives and I do mean all, have an idea in the back of their minds which they try hard to reach and remember but inevitably by the time the end of the chapter arrives it has gone. Which I guess is why the crime novel has not evolved in to a solely short story format.
The one thing they all hate are ‘coincidences’, to a women and man they don’t believe in them, their colleagues don’t believe in them and neither, quite frankly, do the readers. However, their ‘pen pushing out of touch’ managers do, as they help with the crime stats and avoid contemplating that dreaded phenomenon the ‘serial’ killer…
And don’t get me started on the lone crime fighter.
The cooperative movement has made little inroads into detection. This is not surprising what with their rotten bullying bosses, their past, present and future dysfunctional families and having to work with wet behind the ears juniors, who often dry out to become the star of spin off series. These detectives it seems can barely function such is the burden of their divorce(s), addiction(s), childhood/adulthood trauma(s), commitment phobia(s), fear of flying, heights, the use of the English language (except strangely in translations) and coincidences. They can only operate as lone wolves whilst simultaneously going ‘rogue’. A transition which is in itself an oxymoron which in turn is always the first person detectives look for as a suspect as no matter what they say they always contradict themselves.
Finally, coffee, coffee, coffee. Anarchy is seemingly only a closed Starbucks away. In the UK and the USA is normally bitter, burnt and cold. However, in Scandi crime it is hot, endless and kept in a thermos and where a Scandinavian detective is to be found drinking coffee a cinnamon bun is not too far away.
Now where did I put my Kindle……?