Category Archives: Lynda La Plante

I Want to Hold Your Hand*

As this is posted, it’s 55 years since the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. Talent, hard work, serendipity and luck came together, and the Beatles became an international phenomenon. Even now, there are Beatles fan clubs, online Beatles discussion groups, and so on. And that’s not to mention the myriad Beatles cover and tribute bands.

It’s interesting to speculate on what it is that brings some people and bands worldwide fame. Whatever it is, fans flock to their concerts and other appearances. And those fans can be passionate about their hero-worship, too. We see that in real life, as people pay top dollar for tickets and memorabilia, and try as hard as they can to get close to their idols. It’s there in crime fiction, too.

In Agatha Christie’s The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side, for instance, we are introduced to Heather Badcock, who lives with her husband, Arthur, in the new council housing in St. Mary Mead. She is thoroughly excited when she learns that famous film star Marina Gregg has purchased a local property, Gossington Hall, and will open it to the public for an upcoming charity fête. Heather hero-worships Marina Gregg and can’t wait to see her. On the day of the big event, she takes her turn to speak to her idol. Not long afterwards, Heather sickens and then dies of what turns out to be a poisoned drink. At first, it’s believed that the poison was originally meant for Marina, since it was her drink. But before long, we learn that Heather was the intended victim all along. Miss Marple interests herself in the case, since she’s already met Heather, and she and her friend, Dolly Bantry (the original owner of Gossington Hall), work to find out who the killer is.

Fans of Stuart Kaminsky’s Toby Peters series will know that those novels often take place in Hollywood, among the ‘Hollywood set.’ Several of the characters are megastars, who’ve got avid fans and large followings. That doesn’t keep these stars safe, though…

In Michael Connelly’s The Overlook, L.A.P.D. detective Harry Bosch and his police partner, Ignacio ‘Iggy’ Ferras are investigating the murder of physicist Stanley Kent. He was killed on an overlook near Mullholland Drive, and, as you can imagine, Bosch and Ferras are interested in anyone who might have been in the area at the time of the murder. And that’s just what worries twenty-year-old Jesse Milner, who’s moved to Hollywood to try to ‘make it.’ He was near the crime scene, sneaking onto the property of superstar entertainer Madonna, with whom he’s obsessed. His goal was to get a photograph or some sort of memento to send back to his mother to let her know he’s all right. Instead, he becomes a witness to a complicated crime.

Lynda La Plante’s Above Suspicion introduces readers to beloved television personality Alan Daniels. He’s got an absolutely devoted following, and quite a lot of money and ‘clout.’ In fact, he’s poised for big success in films, too, and is hoping the crossover will work well. Then, everything changes. The body of seventeen-year-old Melissa Stephens has been discovered; and, in several ways, her murder resembles the murders of six other women being investigated by the Murder Squad at Queen’s Park, London. And it’s not long before some of the evidence begins to suggest that Daniels might be involved in these crimes. Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) James Langton, Detective Sergeant (DS) Anna Travis, and the rest of the Murder Squad know that Daniels has a devoted following and a lot of influence. He’s a media darling, too, which makes things even more challenging. If he is the murderer, of course, he’s responsible for some terrible crimes. If he’s not, then the police will have wreaked media havoc for nothing. It’s a delicate investigation, made all the more so by Daniels’ superstardom.

Superstar Gaia Lafayette is the subject of one plot thread of Peter James’ Not Dead Yet. She’s become a worldwide sensation, with avid fans everywhere. When she announces her plan to visit her hometown of Brighton to do a film, everyone’s excited. Well, not quite everyone. Detective Superintendent Roy Grace of the Brighton and Hove Police is well aware that having such a megastar in town will mean large crowds and plenty of opportunity for mischief and more. What’s more, his supervisor has made it clear that Grace and his team will be responsible to work with the celebrity’s personal staff to provide security. Grace’s team is spread thin enough, and he doesn’t relish the idea of giving up even more of his people. But this isn’t optional. There’s already been one attempt on the superstar’s life, and it’s quite likely there’ll be another. Gaia and her entourage arrive, and the filming begins. Now, Grace and his staff will have to protect Gaia as best they can, as someone out there is trying just as hard to kill her.

And then there’s Katherine Dewar’s Ruby and the Blue Sky. In it, a band called the Carnival Owls makes it big, winning a Grammy Award for one of their songs, During the acceptance ceremony, the band’s lead singer, Ruby, makes an impassioned speech that encourages sustainability, and urges people not to shop for new things. And this isn’t the rant of an unknown zealot, either. The band has become a phenomenon, and millions of people are eager to heed what Ruby says. That ‘star power’ ends up being a real disadvantage when some very dangerous people try to stop her from pushing her sustainability agenda.

It’s sometimes hard to pinpoint exactly what it is that propels some people to international superstardom. But something does. And when it does, there’s all sorts of fame, fortune and more to be had. But it can be dangerous, too…

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is…oh, come on, you know this one, right?!

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Katherine Dewar, Lynda La Plante, Michael Connelly, Peter James, Stuart Kaminsky

It’s a Brave New World*

In the last decades, police forces, universities, businesses, and many other organizations, have become increasingly diverse. That process hasn’t been easy, and, of course, it’s still ongoing. But many, many groups of all sorts are more open than they were.

The process of diversification starts with one person (e.g. the first non-white person, the first woman, the first gay person). And that person (or those people) face real challenges. For one thing, if you’re the first/only non-white/woman/etc…, were you hired because of your ability, or because of your background? For another, plenty of people may resent your presence. That, too, can be difficult, to say the very least.

The challenge of being the first/only in a group is formidable in real life. In fiction, it can add an interesting layer of character development, as well as tension. It can even form a part of the plot line.

For example, in Adrian Hyland’s Gunshot Road, Aboriginal Community Police Officer (ACPO) Emily Tempest becomes part of a police investigation team that’s looking into the murder of geologist Albert ‘Doc’ Ozolins. The police theory is that he was murdered after a drunken quarrel with John ‘Wireless’ Petherbridge, and that Wireless is the killer. But Tempest isn’t sure that’s true. So, she starts to ask questions. Her temporary boss, Bruce Cockburn, wants her to ‘toe the line,’ but that’s not her style, so she perseveres. And, in the end, she finds out the truth. Woven through this novel is the fact that Tempest is both female and half-Aborigine, while her new colleagues are neither. It’s hard for everyone to get used to the new order of things, and it doesn’t make the investigation any easier for anyone.

Adrian McKinty’s The Cold, Cold Ground introduces his protagonist, Sean Duffy. The novel takes place in 1981, in the midst of The Troubles. Duffy is a member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), posted to Carrickfergus. His job is complicated by the fact that he is a Catholic in that almost completely Protestant police force. On the one hand, it’s in the RUC’s (and the government’s) interest to have a Catholic on the force. On the other, it’s very difficult for Duffy. Many Protestants (including some of his colleagues) won’t trust him because he’s Catholic. That makes it very hard to do his job. He’s not particularly welcome in a lot of Catholic areas, either, since he’s a member of the RUC, and, therefore, a traitor. Add to that the fact that the locals are not big fans of any member of the police force, and you have an extremely challenging situation for Duffy. In the midst of all this, though, he’s still expected to do his job.

Karin Slaughter’s Cop Town takes place in 1974 Atlanta. Maggie Lawson and Kate Murphy are police officers in what is a very male-dominated force. That in itself makes things difficult for them. When a fellow officer, Don Wesley, is killed, it looks at first as though the killer is someone the police have nicknamed The Shooter, who’s already killed other police officers. Lawson and Murphy are as eager to catch this killer as anyone else is, and they soon find out some things that don’t quite match the police reports. And, gradually, they learn of some secrets that some people have been keeping. Things become quite dangerous for them, and it’s clear that they’re going to have to catch this killer quickly if they’re going to stay alive. Lawson and Murphy are not the first female members of the Atlanta Police, but they endure their share of sexism. And, interestingly, some of the bullying comes from more veteran female police officers – some of whom were the first on the force. It’s interesting to see how that impacts the way they treat Lawson and Murphy.

Lynda La Plante also addresses some of these issues in her Jane Tennison thrillers. These stories, which begin in 1973, are, if you will, prequels to her Tennison series. In them, Tennison is brand-new on the police force, and facing the challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated work environment. She has to prove herself to be, as the saying goes, twice as good to get half as far. It’s not easy, and it all takes a toll on Tennison. There are other stories, too, that explore what it’s like to be the first/only woman on a police team (right, fans of Robert Gott’s The Holiday Murders and The Port Fairy Murders?)

And then there’s Ausma Zehanat Khan’s The Unquiet Dead. This novel introduces Inspector Esa Khattak of the Community Policing Section (CPS) of the Canadian federal government. This group is concerned with anti-bigotry and community relations issues. So, its focus is on hate crimes, among other things. Khattak was tapped to head this group in part because of his detective skills, and in part because he is Muslim. There’s been a lot of anti-Muslim sentiment, and the Canadian government is still smarting from the public relations disaster of the Maher Arar case. Choosing a Muslim is an important part of the government’s determination to demonstrate a renewed commitment to diversity. Khattak isn’t stupid; he knows that this is one of the reasons he was chosen. And it becomes all the more important when the body of Christopher Drayton is found at the bottom of the Scarborough (Ontario) Bluffs. At first, it’s unclear why the CPS should be involved in this case. But then, it comes out that Drayton may actually have been Dražen Krstić, a notorious war criminal known as the butcher of Srebrenica. If that’s true, then this could spell real trouble for the government. Why was a war criminal allowed to live in Canada? And why was he never prosecuted? Khattak can’t be completely objective about this case, since he spent time in Bosnia during the war, and since he’s Muslim. So, he gets his assistant, Sergeant Rachel Getty, involved in the investigation. He tells her as little as possible, because he wants her to be objective. As the two of them work the case, they find several possible accounts of what happened to Drayton/Krstić. And they find that several dark secrets have been kept buried.

It’s not always easy being the first/only member of a group who’s of a different religion, or is non-white, or is female, or is…  But it’s an important part of making groups like the police more diverse. And it can add a layer of conflict and character development to a story.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Steve Miller’s Brave New World.

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Filed under Adrian Hyland, Adrian McKinty, Ausma Zehanat Khan, Karin Slaughter, Lynda La Plante, Robert Gott

You’re New to This World*

They say that you never forget your first. I’m talking about your first murder investigation, folks!   Of course, the best detectives never get so hardened that dealing with murder becomes easy. But it’s especially difficult when you’ve never dealt with the ugly reality of what a murder really looks like before.

It’s interesting to see how that first experience is explored in crime fiction. Everyone handles it differently, so an author has a lot of flexibility when it comes to character and plot development. Whatever approach an author chooses to take, that ‘first murder’ experience can add to a story when it’s done credibly.

For example, In Martin Walker’s Bruno, Chief of Police, we are introduced to Benoît ‘Bruno’ Courrèges. He is Chief of Police in the small Périgord town of St. Denis. It’s not the sort of place that’s steeped in crime, so when Hamid Mustafa al-Bakr is found brutally murdered, it’s a whole new experience for Bruno. He’s seen death before, especially during his military service, so he’s not really squeamish. But this is a deliberate, ugly murder. At first, it looks like it might be the work of a far-right group, Front Nationale (FN). But there are other possibilities, and Bruno soon finds that more than one person might have wanted the victim dead.

Lynda La Plante’s Above Suspicion begins as Detective Sergeant (DS) Anna Travis begins her work with the Murder Squad at Queen’s Park, London. And she’s joined at a critical time. The body of seventeen-year-old Melissa Stephens has been discovered, and it’s not a pretty sight. Travis wants to make a good impression, since she’s the new member of the team. But this is her first murder investigation, and she isn’t prepared for what she sees when she gets to the crime scene. She doesn’t handle it particularly smoothly, and she’s embarrassed about it. Fortunately, her boss, Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) James Langton, understands what she’s going through, and doesn’t make it all any worse for her. The team soon comes to believe that this murder may be linked to six other ‘cold’ murders. There are differences, but Langton is convinced that they’re dealing with one killer. They settle on a suspect, but he’s both wealthy and very popular. So, they’re going to have to tread lightly. Besides, he’s not the only suspect. As the novel goes on, Travis and the rest of the team slowly put the evidence together and find out who the killer is.

In A Not So Perfect Crime, Teresa Solana introduces Barcelona PIs Eduard and Josep “Pep” (who goes by the name Borja) Martínez. Lluís Font, Member of the Parliament of Catalonia, hires the brothers because he suspects his wife, Lídia, is being unfaithful. The PIs shadow her for a week, but they find no evidence that she’s having an affair. Then, she suddenly dies of what turns out to be poison. Unsurprisingly, Font comes under suspicion, and asks the Martínez brothers to stay on the case, this time to clear his name. They’ve never dealt with a murder investigation before, so Eduard, in particular, is uneasy about it. But Borja convinces him to agree. They’re not sure exactly how to proceed, and that adds both realism and wit to the story. Slowly, they build a list of suspects, and, in the end, they get to the truth about who killed Lídia Font and why.

Alan Bradley’s sleuth, Flavia de Luce, has her first encounter with murder at the tender age of eleven. In The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, she overhears an argument between her father and an unfamiliar visitor. The next morning, Flavia finds the man’s body in her family’s cucumber patch. Soon enough, Flavia’s father, Colonel de Luce, becomes the most likely suspect. He is arrested and jailed. Flavia wants to clear her father of suspicion, she launches her own investigation. Little by little, she learns the truth about this murder, and it turns out that it’s all related to the past. Flavia is bright, resourceful, and not particularly fragile. But she is also only eleven, so the experience does leave her quite shaken.

And then there’s Gordon Ell’s The Ice Shroud. Detective Sergeant (DS) Malcolm Buchan has recently moved from Dunedin to head the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) in the Southern Lakes District of New Zealand’s South Island. He’s the ‘new kid’ with the team, and wants to make a good impression, as you can imagine. Then, the body of an unknown woman is found frozen in a river not far from Queenstown. Buchan has been involved in murder investigations before, but this is his first time leading this team, and he wants to get things right. It’s not going to be easy, though. The woman is soon identified as Edie Longstreet, who owned a local business. And it turns out that she and Buchan had a relationship which ended, amicably, when he left to do a military tour in Afghanistan. Buchan’s personal relationship with the victim could complicate the case. There’s also the fact that she had a very complex life. It’s going to be a challenge to get to the truth about what happened to her, especially as Buchan is also trying to earn his team’s respect.

There are plenty of other examples, too, of novels that tell the story of a sleuth’s first murder investigation. It can be a very difficult time, both in real life and in crime fiction. It can also add a solid plot point and layer of character development to a story.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from the Marsicans’ Wake Up Freya.

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Filed under Alan Bradley, Gordon Ell, Lynda La Plante, Martin Walker, Teresa Solana

She Had a Very Pretty Face*

In Agatha Christie’s Murder in Mesopotamia, Hercule Poirot solves the murder of Louise Leidner, who has accompanied her husband, noted archaeologist Eric Leidner, to a dig a few hours from Baghdad. When she is killed one afternoon, Poirot finds that several people on the excavation team might have had a reason to commit murder. This novel is told from the point of view of a nurse, Amy Leatheran, who was hired to look after Mrs. Leidner. Nurse Leatheran is described as,
 

‘…a woman of thirty-five, of erect, confident bearing…. a good-humoured face with slightly prominent blue eyes and glossy brown hair.’
 

In this case, Christie gives several details about Nurse Leatheran’s physical appearance. And it certainly makes sense to let readers know what a character looks like. Most want to have at least some sense of physical appearance. It’s part of how people get to know one another.

Plenty of other crime novels also include detailed physical descriptions. For instance, in Nicholas Blake’s The Beast Must Die, we are introduced to crime writer Frank Cairnes. He’s reeling from the loss of his son, Martin ‘Martie’ in a hit-and-run tragedy. Cairnes has determined to find the man responsible for Martie’s death and kill him. After a little digging, he learns that the driver was probably a man named George Rattery. He manages to wangle an introduction to the man, whom he describes this way:
 

‘…he’s so heavy: a big fleshy man, his head recedes upwards at the back, and the top of it slopes down to a low forehead. He has a pseudo-cavalry moustache, which does not succeed in hiding his arrogant…lips. I should say he was in the middle forties.’
 

As you can see, the description is hardly flattering. And it’s interesting to see how Blake uses it to make Cairnes’ feelings about Rattery clear. Cairnes plans to murder Rattery, but those plans don’t work out. When Rattery is later found murdered, Cairnes claims that he is innocent, and asks PI and poet Nigel Strangeways to help clear his name.

Elizabeth Daly’s Unexpected Night features the Cowden family. Amberley Cowden, his sister, Alma, his tutor, Hugh Sanderson, and his mother visit the Ocean House resort at Ford’s Beach, Maine. Amberley is in extremely bad health; in fact, he’s not expected to live past his twenty-first birthday, if he even gets that far. And that’s important, because he’s due to inherit a large fortune when he turns twenty-one. On the morning of his birthday, he is found dead at the bottom of a cliff. The easy explanation is that he died of heart failure (as was expected). But what was he doing out at the cliff late at night? And it is awfully interesting that he would die on that particular night. Rare book expert Henry Gamadge is staying at the resort, and he gets involved in the case. Here’s his impression of Alma when he meets her:
 

‘A dark girl brought up the rear of the procession…Gamadge thought that she seemed neglected, unhappy and forlorn. She was rather casually dressed in a dark-blue flannel skirt, a rose-colored blouse, and a leather coat. She wore no hat. Her dark hair, cut very short, lay as smoothly as a cap on her dark head.’
 

Alma has reason to be anxious, as it turns out, when an attempt is made on her life…

Lynda La Plante’s Above Suspicion introduces readers to Detective Sergeant Anna Travis, who has just joined the Murder Squad at Queen’ Park, London. The team is working to solve the murder of seventeen-year-old Melissa Stephens, whose death may or may not be linked to six other murders. Several leads in the case seem to point to a beloved television actor named Alan Daniels. Here’s the way Daniels is described when Travis first meets him in person:
 

‘He appeared taller and slimmer, and his hair was different: blond, silky, and what seemed to her a Victorian style. His features were more delicate and the high cheekbones rendered his face more gaunt than on the screen. But his eyes in real life retained the most extraordinary violet color, enhanced by his dark eyelashes.’
 

It’s not spoiling the story to say that Travis finds Daniels physically attractive. The question, though, is whether he is also a multiple murderer…

Not all authors choose to describe characters in quite that much detail. And that makes sense if you think about it. In some cases, characters are quite minor, and too much physical description could distract the reader. In other cases, a character’s physical appearance doesn’t really impact the plot in a major way. For example, Robert Rotenberg’s Old City Hall begins as a newspaper deliverer, Gurdial Singh, gets ready to distribute copies of the Toronto Globe and Mail to his customers who live in the exclusive Market Place Tower condominiums. When he gets to the home of noted radio personality Kevin Brace, he’s surprised to find the door slightly open. Matters get even stranger when Brace comes to the door and tells Singh,
 

‘‘I killed her, Mr. Singh…I killed her.’’
 

The ‘her’ refers to Brace’s common-law wife, Katherine Thorn, whose body is found in a bathtub in the condominium. Singh has no choice but to contact the police, who have no choice but to arrest Brace. But the case isn’t as clear-cut as that. Interestingly, we don’t really get a detailed physical description of Mr. Singh. We learn several things about him, but the focus is on his background and personality, not his appearance.

And that’s sometimes quite effective. What about you? Do you prefer to have a clear physical picture of the characters you ‘meet?’ Or is that not a priority? If you’re a writer, how much do you invest in what your characters look like?

ps. You’ll notice that I didn’t mention sleuths’ physical appearances. To me, that’s a different topic.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from SafetySuit’s Annie.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Elizabeth Daly, Lynda La Plante, Nicholas Blake, Robert Rotenberg

Why All These Questions?*

An interesting post from crime writer and fellow blogger Sue Coletta has got me thinking about murder interrogations. This guest post, written by a former homicide detective, details an actual interrogation in connection with a murder. G’wan, read it. It’s quite potent. And as you’ll be at Sue’s excellent blog already, do check out her crime novels. They’re potent, too.

Back now? Thanks. Interrogations aren’t easy. For one thing, the police are, in most cases, limited in what they can do during an interrogation (e.g. they are not allowed to be violent, although there are cases where that has happened). They are allowed to lie to suspects, but they generally aren’t allowed to continue an interrogation if a suspect requests a lawyer. For another thing, most murder suspects don’t want to admit, at least at first, that they are guilty, or that they played a part in a murder. So, whoever does the interrogating often has to get past a tissue of lies, bluster, and so on.

It’s interesting to see how interrogations are done in crime fiction. When they’re done effectively, they can certainly add tension and suspense to a story. And, they can allow for the author to misdirect the reader if the sleuth is interrogating a suspect who later turns out not to be guilty. Whether or not that’s the case, interrogations are a part of real-life criminal investigation, so it makes sense that they’d be woven into the genre. Here are a few examples; I know you’ll think of many more.

Sometimes, the sleuth finds it very effective to appear understanding, even sympathetic, towards the suspect. Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot does this in more than one of the cases he investigates. In Murder in Mesopotamia, for instance, Poirot is in the Middle East when he is asked to investigate the murder of Louise Leidner. Her husband, noted archaeologist Dr. Eric Leidner, is leading an excavation team at a site a few hours from Baghdad, and she has joined the group. One afternoon, she is bludgeoned in her bedroom. Poirot discovers that more than one person could have wanted to kill her, but in the end, he finds out which person actually did. Here’s a little of what that person says in the course of admitting the killing:
 

‘‘…if you’d known Louise you’d have understood…No, I think you’d understand anyway…’’
 

Just because Poirot does not approve of murder doesn’t mean he can’t understand what motivates a killer.

We also see that sort of approach in Gail Bowen’s A Killing Spring. In that novel, Bowen’s sleuth, academician Joanne Kilbourn, gets involved in the investigation of the murder of a colleague, Reed Gallagher.  She knows the victim’s widow, so she’s asked to go along to break the news, and before long, starts asking questions about what really happened. In the end, she finds out who the killer is. In one scene, she finds herself alone with the killer, and in some danger, too:
 

‘All I had going for me was the possibility that…. would be unable to resist the chance to tell his tale.
I tried to keep my voice steady. ‘I’ve always told my kids there are two sides to every story,’ I said. ‘Maybe it’s time I got your perspective on everything that’s happened.’’
 

At first, the killer sees her comment as condescending. But soon, the whole story comes out, and that keeps Kilbourn alive until the situation’s resolved.

There’s a different approach to getting a murderer talking in Lynda La Plante’s Above Suspicion, which introduces Detective Sergeant (DS) Anna Travis. She joins the Murder Squad at Queen’s Park, London, which is under the supervision of Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) James Langton. That team is currently investigating the murder of seventeen-year-old Melissa Stephens, who was killed in the same way as a group of six other women. There are enough differences between those cases and this new one that there is a chance that two killers are involved. But the team doesn’t think so. Little by little, the members of the team slowly zero in on their prime suspect. But, of course, they could be wrong about the guilty person. Finally, the team finds out the truth. And when they do, they confront the guilty person.  At first, that person is confident. But, as Travis brings up the various pieces of evidence, things change. There’s bluster, even anger. And eventually, Travis’ firmness and the murderer’s own underlying fear get the better of that person. It’s hard on both people, and it’s a very suspenseful scene.

In Domingo Villar’s Death on a Galician Shore, Vigo Police Inspector Leo Caldas investigates the death of a fisher, Justo Castelo. At first, it looks as though it might be a suicide, and that wouldn’t be out of the question. The victim had been dealing with several issues, and it’s not too farfetched that he might have chosen that method of solving his problems. But a few little hints suggest to Caldas that this was a murder. The question, though, is who would have wanted to kill Castelo. By all accounts, the victim had, as the saying goes, kept himself to himself. He didn’t have a lot of money or obvious enemies. Then, Caldas learns about a tragedy that took place years earlier, when Castelo was out on a fishing boat under the command of Captain Antonio Sousa. A storm came up and Sousa went overboard. Castelo and the two other men on board the boat that night have never talked about what really happened, but there is a possibility that whatever it was, it might be related to Castelo’s death. Gradually, Caldas finds out the truth. And when he does, he confronts the killer. At first, the killer remains calm and confident. But, when Caldas confronts that person with the evidence, the confident exterior cracks, and the murderer tells the truth. It’s a suspenseful moment, since the killer,
 

‘…wasn’t used to losing.’
 

And it’s an interesting look at a police interrogation.

And then there’s Abir Mukherjee’s A Rising Man. This novel takes place in Kolkata/Calcutta in 1919, just after WW I. Captain Sam Wyndham has joined the Indian Police Service, and is working to investigate the murder of Alexander MacAuley, head of Indian Civil Service (ICS) finance for Bengal. There is a chance that his murder is connected to the Indian independence movement, and that’s what the Powers That Be want as the explanation. There is evidence to support that account, too, and Wyndham duly tracks down and arrests Benoy Sen, a hero of the independence movement. The interrogation scenes between them are full of tension and reveal things about both men’s characters.

Interrogation scenes need to be done carefully, or they run the risk of not being credible, or of being melodramatic. When they’re done well, though, they can add much to the story. These are a few examples. Your turn.

Thanks, Sue, for the inspiration!

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Steel Pulse’s Blame on Me.

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Filed under Abir Mukherjee, Agatha Christie, Domingo Villar, Gail Bowen, Lynda La Plante, Sue Coletta