deird1: Dawn raising an eyebrow, with text "srsly?" (Dawn srsly)
[personal profile] deird1
Read a murder mystery today, in which the killer got away with it.

As a veteran of whodunits, I'm quite used to stories from the perspective of the killer, or where the killer gets away. They can work well - but, the thing is, they kinda depend on you sympathising with the killer.

If the book's from the killer's perspective, they can still be a horrible person, but you need at least some kind of reason to see things from their point of view. And, if the killer gets away with the murder, you really really need to understand where the killer's coming from, and to mostly agree with their point of view.

If Ms Jones is taking out Evil McNastison, vile wretch, kidnapper of cute little girls, and puppy killer, then the fact that she gets away with stabbing him might just be something we're okay with. If, on the other hand, Ms Jones gets away with stabbing Cheapskate McDouche, who didn't pay his parking tickets, we might think she's overreacting. And we'll probably get a bit more disapproving about the whole got-away-with-murder thing.

...all of which is a long, round-about way of saying:

If your murder mystery, from 1930, has someone getting away with murdering a Foul Fiend who
a) has an affair with a married woman
b) dumps said married woman because he's out of cash
c) proposes to a rich chick because he needs more cash
...and that's it...
then your 21st century murder mystery fan, reading your fabulous novel, will not necessarily approve of you letting the murderer off the hook.

No matter how much you have the other characters gasp and say things like "what a cad!", I'm still not going to be happy about them killing him. He's just not evil enough.

(Agatha Christie was so much better at this. I've seen other authors go with Mr Marries-For-Money and Mr Complains-About-The-Church-In-His-Newspaper being killed with the approval of the other characters - and apparently the author - but the Values Dissonance stopped those being okay pretty quickly. Whereas Christie, when she wanted to let the killer go free, made her victim kidnap and murder a three-year-old. That's still pretty effective.)

Date: 2013-02-18 09:50 am (UTC)
lliira: Fang from FF13 (Default)
From: [personal profile] lliira
Christie could also make you feel sympathy for a murderer who, when you thought about it, wasn't really at all sympathetic. She never let those go free, though. The furthest she went was allowing one to kill himself, and that was for the benefit of his sister, not him.
Edited Date: 2013-02-18 09:50 am (UTC)

Spoilers for Kerry Greenwood's Dead Man's Chest

Date: 2013-02-18 10:22 am (UTC)
vass: A sepia-toned line-drawing of a man in naval uniform dancing a hornpipe, his crotch prominent (Default)
From: [personal profile] vass
A nasty old lady nobody likes suddenly dies, and Phryne grabs the pillowcase that could prove she was smothered. Dot, in a fit of very unusual stupidity, launders the pillowcase and returns it, destroying the evidence (Phryne hadn't told Dot why she'd taken the pillowcase).

Then, right at the end of the book, Phryne congratulates the housemaid on her new situation, and the housemaid, misunderstanding, says something like "oh, don't thank me, it was nothing, nobody liked her anyway," and Phryne is left going "did she just say that? ...Oh well, my holiday's over and it doesn't really matter, anyway." After all, it's not like people who murder ever commit a second murder or anything.

Date: 2013-02-19 08:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I suppose it could work when it's a sort of nihilistic story saying "Forget it, it's Chinatown" or something. But it sounds like the victim was supposed to be a SCOUNDREL who deserved his lot. In which case ... yeah, doesn't work.


deird1: Fred looking pretty and thoughful (Default)

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