As a thriller writer, it is perhaps inevitable that stories I have liked reading and those that I have written myself have a strong dose of vengeance in them. Many thrillers are based on this one theme. Some injustice is meted out to an individual and he/she vows to take revenge. Although this is a very old theme, it still is a winner.
This is perhaps so because all of us can relate to the joy the erstwhile victim feels when his/her tormentor has been vanquished. My debut novel “It Can’t Be You” had this as an underlying theme and in fact it’s by line was ” A Circle of Vengeance”.
They say that revenge tastes best when it overtakes the individual when he least expects it. Writers of fiction have often used this aspect, reflected in the adage “Revenge is a dish best served cold” (adapted from “la vengeance se mange très-bien froide”- Marie Joseph Eugène Sue 1841).
As you know, this theme is not restricted to the realm of fiction. Perhaps the best example, I can think of, of vengeance over a long period of time concerns the infamous Munich Olympics of 1972. Israeli athletes were targeted in an unprecedented attack in the Olympics Village itself which shocked the world. It has gone down in history as the Munich Massacre. The operation was planned and carried out by an Islamic outfit called Black September and 11 Israeli athletes lost their lives.
The Israelis who have adopted the ” eye for an eye “approach over decades since the fledgling nation came into being, systematically hunted down the assailants. There are many stories associated with the operation for retribution that followed which was code-named “The Wrath of God”. It is said that the last one was killed in the early 90s, a good 20 years after the 1972 massacre.
This was not something new for the Israelis. At the end of World War II they sought to hunt down Nazi leaders responsible for the mass killings of Jews in the terrible concentration camps. They went about the task relentlessly. In 1960, they captured Adolf Eichmann in an audacious kidnap in Buenos Aires, Argentina in far away South America. This was 15 years after World War II had ended.
Closer home, Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Indian nation abhorred the thought of vengeance.” An eye for an eye would make the whole world blind” he said. But this didn’t stop him from being assassinated in 1948. His assailants believed it was because of him that thousands had gone through untold suffering following the traumatic Partition of India in 1947.
These incidents all took place when I was growing up and caught my imagination. I mention them not to advocate vengeance as a point of philosophy. I speak as a writer about vengeance as a theme in thrillers. In real life, not all cases receive the kind of media attention that the cases I have mentioned received. They were high-profile events.
Yet day in and day out, all over the world there are ever so many people thirsting for vengeance to fight some perceived injustice they have suffered. This is a part of our lives that cannot be wished away. This is something that writers will write about for all time to come.