Saturday, July 16, 2005

Murder They Wrote

I have discovered the gruesome world of crime fiction.

I admit I stumbled into the genre rather late, considering that I started my reading career devouring Nancy Drew novels at the rate of two a day. I was a huge fan of "New Detectives" and "Crime Night" on Discovery Channel long before knowing about forensic pathology became fashionable thanks to CSI. Once upon a time, I even toyed with the idea of going into forensic pathology myself until the sight and smell of my first live autopsy forced me to can the idea.

But lately, I've been feeding my pulp fiction appetite with who-done-its by Patricial Cornwell and Kathy Reichs, novels featuring strong career women pathologists bent on getting into the heart of a mystery armed with no more than their brains and their guts.

Fascinated as I am with their heroines' investigative prowess, I can't help but be as equally astonished by the macabre imaginations that gave these stories birth. How must these authors feel as they describe these murders in detail, typing away at their keyboards in the middle of the night? It's creepy enough dwelling inside a killer's as a captive reader - how many times creepier it must be to have to think as one in order to give texture to your story. It's amazing that anyone even allows themselves to thinking these thoughts at all.

Or is thinking of murder really all that uncommon? I can't help but wonder if at some point in every person's life, one has already thought of killing someone, even in passing. Is it within each one of us to be capable of killing? Given the right circumstances, the answer would probably be yes. But is it within each one of us to be mad enough to plan cold-blooded murder? It is the answer to that question that is still up in the air. Maybe the reason why crime fiction is a genre that continues to sell is because these paper villains keep ordinary people from crossing the line to madness by acting out our madness for us.