Is fictional life too cheap?

FireproofPhil: Another new genre for my reading – the crazed psycho murder mystery.

Fireproof by Alex Kava is part of a series based around FBI detective Maggie O’Dell. She’s a criminal profiler and you’ll be unsurprised to learn, has a basket full of personal problems to contend with. In a weird way, it’s a bit chick-litty in that with a failed marriage in her past and a new boyfriend she can’t really open up to on the horizon, the series is almost a search for Mr Right, just with some dead bodies along the way.

It’s the bodies that made me feel uncomfortable.

Thinking about it, I’m not happy with the whole randomness of the death. Everyone who dies appears to be unconnected with the murderer and their murder is just to make a point to someone else.

If you spend your life getting under the skin (not literally, that’s the murderers) of these people, it’s hardly surprising you go nuts.

No, it’s the randomness, the cheapness of life that confuses me. I know they are fictional, but the people on the slab had imaginary lives leading up to a (usually) terrible demise. They grew up with hopes and dreams, snatched away by someone who could have made the same point by scribbling on a Post-it note.

You’re probably thinking I’m a stupid, sensitive soul – I do get that this is fiction and murders make more interesting crime stories than scrumping apples from a tree. One of the few box sets I own is the Inspector Morse series, but with this the murders were rarely random.

In real life, 80% of victims knew their killers. And there were only (only!) 640 in the UK in 2014 – you can see a map of them here if you want. That’s still 128 random killings but compares to 1,713 road deaths over the same period, 398 of whom were pedestrians. Essentially, you are over twice as likely to be run over as randomly murdered. Not forgetting that this 80% is only person knowledge and doesn’t include gang violence where collateral killings take place making the chances of being a victim even lower for “normal” people.

And yes, there is a superstitious part of me that thinks I might be increasing my own chances by writing about the low probability of this.

Basically, random murder is somewhat rarer in real life than it is in fiction. Maybe that’s what makes it so fascinating. I wonder though if spending all your time reading or watching (on films) random murder desensitises the viewer to it all?

All it makes me feel is icky. I think I prefer my books with a happy ending.

Oh, and I worked out whodunnit half way through.

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1 Comment

Filed under Books, Phil, Writing

One response to “Is fictional life too cheap?

  1. Think I’m getting a bit sensitive in my old age as well. I’ve stopped reading the Harry Hole series by Jo Nesbo after two books as in the third, The Leopard, there is a particularly gruesome murder of a woman. In the previous there was random, hideous murders which seemed to be excessive and violent just for the sake of it.

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