If you read enough crime fiction, you'll eventually notice a few recurring tropes. The tortured PI who drinks too much, for example.
If a genie popped out and said you could eliminate one of these stereotypes forever, which one would you choose? (This genie is picky about the wishes it grants.)
Well, knowing the killer but not knowing how to get him sounds pretty interesting. There are lots of options for a crime story that don't require the killer's identity to be kept a secret. I think the suspense is actually stronger when I know who the killer is rather than cheap twists that often (although not always) accompany keeping the killer's identity a secret until the end.
I'm always more interested in *why* the bad guys are bad. People don't just wake up one morning and think it'd be fun to go on a killing spree (unless they're a psychopath in which case everything's too unpredictable). It's motivation for me. And I like books that muddy the waters - show the good in the bad guys and the fact that the good guys aren't always perfect either.
The why can be really fun too. Sometimes you can know the why and the who and still have some compelling action.
Good point, IJ. I find a lot of what I've written turns out to be like that, where the killer is revealed well before the end, and the real question becomes what to do about him.
Totally agree. That's what I do with my crime thrillers. There's no mystery about whodunnit. You're inside the killers head from the get go. The tension and suspense comes from whether or not the protagonist will catch him/her and stop him from doing nasty things to people, killing them or worse. And there can be worse things than being killed ...
The tortured sex scene where the author laboriously explains which body part goes where and what sort of result this gets.
I agree, Susan. The whole "let's see how far I can brutalize a woman in this scene" thing is cheap.
The disfunctional family life
But it's so reliable!
I agree. The incredibly horrible situations that abound in families today (behind closed doors) are multiplying. Here's one example from my DARK DEEDS blog ... The Perfect Family
This of course leads to the meetings with the ex-wife or the son(That Icelandic chap) with the mashed up drug addled daughter. Can't we just have someone who goes to University and plays the piano
Actually, yes, Indridasson's repetitive insertions of his protagonist's family life get extremely old by now. Especially irritating is the fact that his character has neither the gumption nor the emotion to take some sort of action in the situation. He exists merely to receive unannounced visits from his troubled kids and listen helplessly to their latest disasters. This, I think, passes for modern parenting.
But that doesn't mean that family problems cannot be integrated effectively and allow us some insight into characters' lives. For me, writing is about characters. And few human beings pass through life without some sort of personal upheaval.