Motivation, not murder.

In my crime writing, the aspect which fascinates me is the motivation, rather than the murder. The violence itself  is dreary : any description of it is banal.  People commit horrible crimes. We know this. They do terrible things to each other. I worked in a prison for eight years – I know the kind of injuries people inflict on each other. The mechanics of that, the recipe of the violence itself, is not interesting.

Some recent crime writing seems to revel in this aspect of crime. They to try to shock, as if writers are in some kind of arms race to outdo each other, to shock the reader into submission. This was never an interest of mine. I prefer writers who look a little more deeply into their world – the insight of George Pelecanos ino contemporary Washington, the eerie otherworld of Johan Theorin’s stories, set in the archipelago of Oland. It is their oblique approach which is intriguing.

The psychology, on the other hand, is fascinating. Do people see the world in different ways? That is clearly true in the case of people who take drugs and drink to excess. Is it true of all of us? It’s WHY people commit crime, rather than HOW, which is endlessly fascinating.


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