Through the decades of speculation all the focus has been on the who of the killer, not the who of the women, who were easily dismissed and almost faded into the background while the mysterious Bible John, became bigger than life in the way that unsolved mysteries often do.
It is only when we get to the higher understanding that most people, most organisations, are neither wholly good, or wholly bad, that we can transcend some of these entrenched issues and see things clearly. One thing can be very bad for some people, and positive for others. Neither negates the other, they both just... are.
All books reviewed on the blog are availible to buy at the TCF bookshop where profits go to support independent bookshops and help keep the podcast running. For most people, losing a loved one to a violent murder is probably the worst thing we could imagine happening to ourselves or anyone we know. Even thinking …
The Coombs case indeed throws up a mirror to our apparently more modern age, where we consider ourselves to have more understanding. The Wicked Boy however does not lead one to the satisfactory conclusion that we would react differently now-a-days because we are so much more knowledgeable and clever. Instead it shows us that despite the great advances we've made both socially and in technology, once you scratch the surface the human reaction to children committing murder is the same tumultuous mix of shock, horror, pity, and disbelief, accompanied by the kind of wild blame seeking and judgement that speaks more of calming anxiety than the search for true understanding.
The human centre Sounes gives us is much needed to provide depth, tone and heart. If we take only one approach, analysis without heart, or heart without analysis, we risk losing something important, the je ne sais quo, of what was happening in Gloucester and the terrible chemistry between Fred and Rose.
It is not just the effects on the soul that Dundass has got right, it's also the othering and dislike of disability from society. At the heart of HellSans is the unspoken question that all those with disability come to ask themselves sooner or later "Is it me who is disabled, or is the real disability societies inability to cope with differnece."
The surface question of this book is "Who is killing these people?" but as a book of layers, readers who choose to dig down further find other questions, many of which will be uncomfortable. Like it's antipodean counterpart, Dust off the Bones, we are seeing an emergence in crime fiction of narrative which deeply engages with crime. Not just the crime that propels a reader to turn the page to find out who dun it. Rather crime that is rooted in great injustices, crimes of nations and states, crimes for which no one person can be jailed, so we can easily say justice is done and move on. Crimes which are so large, that they ripple throughout history, and on the level of time are still present, happening and, ongoing, before our very eyes.
Recently while watching the trailer for the new Game of Thrones spin off House of the Dragon I casually remarked to my daughter that I was brought up in an area called Easter Ross. She immediately thought I was making it up, even though I am nothing but 100% serious all the time, and I …
This week on a podcast only episode Mairi interviews Jack Lutz, author of London in Black, a near-future novel about crime and society in London after a biochemical attack. They talk crime fiction, London, names and flawed detectives.
Science Fiction and crime fiction make extremely potent mix, best exemplified in China Mieville's The City and The City. The combination of working out what has happened in the crime, and also unravelling world building to understand the culture and history of a future or different universe, means that a readers synapses will be firing more than normal, and the satisfaction of finding the solution to the crime, while understanding the implications of the sometimes extremely unusual context means the dopamine hit at the end is higher.