Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Some mystery stories are just puzzles, but in the best stories, individuals matter.
For me, that's at the heart of all great writing. Individuals matter, both the detectives and the victims. Even the individual villains matter.
I looked at the World Clock website today. It told me the world population is 6,762,297,759 (at the time I looked). 30,499,542 have died this year. 71,672,732 have been born this year. Simple arithmetic shows that the world's population increased this year alone over forty-one million people.
But when I read about something like The Magdalen Martyrs, I hurt for them. I am incensed at the injustice (too tame a word). Those abused women matter.
The fact that the church in which I grew up (I was baptized and raised Roman Catholic) perpetrated the abuse incenses me all the more.
The abuse clearly incenses Ken Bruen too. That's what makes his book about the martyrs so powerful.
I've never been much for Agatha Christie, though over the years I read most of her books. I was even amazed by some of them (Ackroyd and the like). But for me, the victims were never real people. They were always just the source of the puzzle.
For me, in the best books, individuals matter.