If you read enough crime fiction, you get very familiar with certain authors’ styles and certain sub-genre patterns. You may even get to the point where you can tell what’s probably going to happen to certain characters, just based on what you know about a given author or sub-genre. It’s true! Let me show you what I mean with just a few examples:
I. Someone starts to feel mildly ill.
A. Robin Cook novel: That person will soon die of a rare and very nasty virus spread by some equally nasty people to further their own agendas.
B. Agatha Christie novel: That person will soon be a poisoning victim. Or the murderer who’s cleverly pretending to be a victim.
C. Scandinavian crime novel: That person is the sleuth, who has to go to work and solve crimes despite being sick.
II. A man is offered a drink.
A. Tartan noir novel: He is a small-time crook about to be ‘persuaded’ into a dangerous deal. Or be shot or stabbed right afterwards.
B. ‘Harboiled’ novel: He is a low-class informer who has important information.
C. Louise Penny novel: He is a newcomer to Three Pines. He will die hours later of poisoning. It will turn out that he is related to one of Three Pines’ residents.
III. A beautiful woman is introduced.
A. Golden Age PI novel: She is a vamp/seductress who’s bent on misleading the sleuth.
B. Golden Age novel (other than PI): She is an ingenue who is about to be wrongly accused of murder.
C. Psychological thriller: She is the first of several victims.
IV. Two people are driving down an empty road.
A. Aussie noir novel: These people are partners in crime. There is a body hidden in the back. The body will be dumped in an abandoned mine, where it will be discovered a few years later.
B. American thriller: They are both foreign agents. They will soon be chased by FBI and CIA operatives. There will be a protracted gun battle.
C. French noir novel: The two people are an unhappy couple. They will stop at a small inn. There, one will meet someone new. In the end, one will kill the other and everyone’s life will spin out of control.
V. A man leaves a pub after having more than a judicious amount to drink.
A. Yrsa Sigurðardóttir novel: He will be killed in what looks like an accidental hit-and-run. It will turn out he knows the truth about a fifty-year-old murder and was going to gossip about it.
B. ‘Screwball’ or ‘screwball noir‘ novel: He will accidentally get into the wrong car. The car will have a body in it. The body is of the son-in-law of a cop and the son of a local crime boss. Trouble will soon ensue.
C. British police procedural: He will witness a murder, but won’t remember it clearly. None of the other pub regulars will believe him at first. The DCI/DI investigating team will get very frustrated trying to encourage him to remember what he saw.
VI. A woman goes down an alley and knocks at a door.
A. Arthur Conan Doyle story: She is the daughter of a wealthy MP. She is being blackmailed over an indiscreet letter she wrote. She will hire Sherlock Holmes to find and stop the blackmailer.
B. Gritty modern noir : She is a prostitute who is fleeing her pimp. She will go to her friend, a ‘low-rent’ drugs dealer, for help. They will soon be caught in a vicious web when word gets around that he killed her pimp, who is also a powerful local crime boss.
C. Cosy mystery – She is new in town and looking for the local café. She will get a job there and soon start solving café mysteries.
These are just a few ideas. Care to add any??
*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Billy Joel’s Worse Comes to Worst.