Sunday, 1 April 2012
Getting Away With Murder...
One of my lovely beta readers, William Urinoski, wasn't altogether happy with the ending of Replica because of what does, or rather doesn't, happen to the villain, Sir Peter Ellis. In his thoughtful critique he said:
"I think he might have benefited from a bit of Jack Reacher's brand of justice - not necessarily fatal, but extremely painful with a prolonged recovery time - followed by some time before the bench with the threat of an also-prolonged prison term...Though as much fun as it is to speculate about alternate endings, I don't mean to imply that yours isn't good. I think, now that I've spent the time writing about it, that I must be troubled by the fact that I think Pete (he really doesn't deserve to be called Sir Peter) got off too lightly...I think readers like endings where most everybody gets their just desserts. That's probably why Child's work consistently sells so well."
This stayed with me, because originally I had wanted Nick to kill or severely damage Sir Peter, and get away with it. And there was the rub - I couldn't work out how a character these days in central London could plausibly get away with the murder or even assault of someone known to him. What with forensics and a thorough police investigation, he wouldn't have a hope.
I'd never read any of Lee Child's thrillers (though Nick does in Replica) so recently I read three, Gone Tomorrow, Bad Luck And Trouble, and Worth Dying For. I can see why he is so successful; the books are gripping and unputdownable. My favourite was Bad Luck And Trouble, my least favourite Gone Tomorrow (torture scenes). With none of them was I entirely convinced by Reacher getting away with murder. Lots of murders, plus crippling assaults. However remote the district in Worth Dying For, I don't think four members of a family could simply disappear, along with six or seven other people, without questions being asked. In fifteen books, Jack Reacher kills 77 people, and gets away scot free. A bit of an eyebrow raiser, though Lee Child does it with great panache.
Perhaps I'll go back to writing fantasy, where heroes kill baddies all the time, with nothing to prevent them riding away into the sunset, rough justice done to the satisfaction of everyone.
Can any of you think of good examples of modern heroes getting away with murder in a totally believable way?
Posted by Lexi at Sunday, April 01, 2012