Thursday, May 7, 2009

Are there crimes worse than murder?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Yesterday on Moments in Crime, Jane
Haddam asked why mystery stories always have to deal with murder.

She talked about growing up reading Nancy Drew. Many of those stories involved solving lesser crimes.

My question is different. Are there crimes more horrendous than murder? I thought so when I wrote The Body in the Record Room.

The Body in the Record Room is a different kind of story. It is not a cozy. It is a violent book written by someone who might be more suited to writing cozies.

I'm a small town person. I can't write about the Russian language as Erica Kirov does in Magickeepers: The Eternal Hourglass. (That book is a fantasy, not a mystery. I'm reading it now and loving it.)

Erica is more up-town than I am. Magickeepers is set in Las Vegas. I don't know about
Las Vegas. I've never been there.

Nor can I write police
procedurals. I don't know a police procedure from a medical procedure.

I have a certain feeling about violence. I think it should be real in the books I read. I don't think it should be little more than just a set-up for a book about antiques or knitting shops. I think using violence in that way devalues human life.

At the same time, I hate gratuitous violence included just to sell books.

You might have read the poll which showed that a surprising number of Christians approved torture as an interrogation technique in at least some cases. I agree with this man. I don't think those people are truly living their faith. In their minds, at least, I suspect they have reduced violence to little more than a necessary technique, not true violence.

The Body in the Record Room, I see child abuse as an even greater crime than murder. It is the kind of crime that ruins lives and leads to suicide and murder.

The second Roy Rogers book deals with selling children, 12-year-old girls, to be married to older men. And the third Roy Rogers book involves extreme racism. Such racism occurs in many places, including Southern Missouri. The racism in that book leads to murder.

My minister book,
The Eternity Covenant, even has a character who is a necromaniac. You might be surprised to learn that most ministers, funeral directors and others who work with death have run across at least one necromaniac in their careers.

So my books end up being neither fish nor fowl, neither cozy nor something like Carol O'Connell would write.

Are there crimes worse than murder? I think there are. What about you?


Corey Wilde said...

I think you make a good point, Joe, about horrendous crimes that ruin lives and often have murder as a consequence. And yet the law takes little notice of those crimes compared to murder. Under the law, the only crime with as harsh a punishment as murder is treason.

Joe Barone said...

Maybe it's the old "eye for an eye" thing. We don't think we can exact capital punishment (to which I am opposed) for a crime that is not a capital crime.

And while I'm at it, I guess I can't help but preach. The "eye for an eye" idea was a step forward in ethics. It created a situation where you only took the perpetrator's eye, not his life.

pattinase (abbott) said...

The story I wrote for the first issue of MURDALAND (RIP) was about a child abuser. I will never write about such a thing again.

Joe Barone said...

Child abuse is an especially terrible crime.