After F for Facebook and G for Google, I didn’t want H to be for Hacking! I decided to move into another realm altogether. I am settling for a topic which has interested me since I was a kid. As a writer of thrillers, H is for Homicide!I first came across homicide years ago when I read Earl Stanley Gardner. I hung on to every word as his legendary lawyer Perry Mason demolished the DA Hamilton Burger in case after case. Supporting characters included detective Paul Drake and Mason’s comely secretary, Della Street! The head of Homicide was, if I remember correctly, Lt. Tragg. As I write this, I am astounded because these names are from memory as I haven’t read ESG for more than 40 years now! I liked the alliteration in the book titles like the “Case of the Lucky Legs” and that of the “Grinning Gorilla”. I read these as a kid in the 60s. Only now I realize they were written in the late 30s and the 40s.
Another author whose writing I very much enjoyed was James Hadley Chase. He too kept the Homicide folks busy in his books with corpses being found all over the place. I still remember books like “The Flesh of the Orchid” and “No Orchids for Miss Blandish”. I liked the snappy titles of his books : Remember ” Strictly for Cash” or “Why Pick On Me?’
Homicide detectives have come a long way since those days. Epitomizing today’s dec. is Dr. Alex Cross, created by James Patterson who churns out one best-seller after the other. Contrary to many of the characters in past years, Dr. Cross is an African-American and has the advantage of being a psychologist. I have enjoyed many of Patterson’s books featuring Dr. Cross, who seems to be very real life like to me.
Advances in science enable the homicide detectives of today to be a far cry from the days of the legendary Sherlock Holmes created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Holmes was a great one for analyzing situations through logical reasoning. His ever present pipe and his address at 221 B, Baker Street have gone down in history! The author was a physician himself and was amongst the first to write about what we would today call forensic science in solving homicide cases. He wrote of the importance of collecting clues at the crime site-be they ash, hair or fingerprints.
Although I love thrillers, my all time favourite author remains P.G. Wodehouse. He wrote of detectives snooping around collecting clues and ashes. With the customary Wodehouse humour, in one book, Amelia Bassett asks ” Tell me … if you were a millionaire, would you rather be stabbed in the back with a paper-knife or found dead without a mark on you, staring with blank eyes at some appalling sight?”
The other day I was asked what attracts t me to being a thriller writer and I replied ” The thrills!”. Homicide fascinates people the world over. Writing about a fictitious account of a murder calls for skills in crafting a plot, giving the right mix of clues and red herrings. You need to keep your reader hooked . I was delighted when a reviewer described my debut novel “It Can’t Be You “ as “a book that will keep you up at night!”