WOW, so many replies to my very first post, about cruelty to animals in crime fiction. But I think that discussion has about run its course. I do appreciate all the responses, whether I fully agree with all of them or not--everyone's got good points to make. Writers see things a bit differently, obviously, than readers. But I like a lively discussion. I tried to reply to everyone, but sometimes you miss a response, especially when the thread gets long.
But here's another question I have, since so many of you ARE writers Whenever I read an interesting mystery, I wonder: What sort of research went into this? Do the murders in your books mirror real life incidents, or do you more or less completely invent them?
There have been a number high-profile murder cases in my hometown/area. (The Michael Peterson case was probably the most notorious; before that there was the Eric Miller arsenic poisoning,--the couple worked at UNC Hospitals, in a research lab) ; then the abduction and shooting of Eve Carson in Chapel Hill by two youths from Durham). All tragic---but only two, perhaps, with enough material for a writer to harvest. Eve Carson's murder may have been a killing only of opportunity---the motive for her abduction being robbery, her death possibly unpremeditated.
Most of the murders committed around here, as elsewhere it seems, are killings of wives or girlfriends by husbands or boyfriends. Or, as in the case of Eric Miller, the husband was methodically murdered by the wife (initially with the compliance of a married man she took --and manipulated--as her lover: he committed suicide before the case could ever come to trial. ) Michael Peterson was convicted, although the Defense did its best , at great expense and with many "expert" witnesses, to prove his innocence. There was that other death in Germany years before, when Peterson adopted the two young daughters of the first woman who died in an apparent fall down the stairs of her home, and the judge admitted it into evidence. So it appeared there was precedence for his wife Kathleen's murder.
But most FICTIONAL murders are not of this type, it seems--at least not the ones I've read---even though they are so common. And these are the REAL murder mysteries. The motives usually appear to be jealousy, money---rage over money that is , a desire to escape from a situation that can't be resolved. The men are sometimes having affairs. (Women too--Ann Miller was). She had an elaborate facade, and was not at all what she seemed. But instead of divorce, they choose murder. Why? What's at stake that's so important they'd kill to maintain it when they could just LEAVE? Money? Status? A spectacular house (like the ones the Petersons lived in.)
Even after we know WHO, we don't always know WHY. There's plenty of speculation, but someone has to piece together the parts of the puzzle to get any kind of answer.
SO: would any of you writers use this kind of material, or is it too ho-hum for a good mystery NOVEL? For fiction? Not quite convoluted enough? Do you search newspapers, archives, etc., for ideas? Where do you glean your ideas and characters? Observe a given situation and say...WHAT IF ? ;)