Tag: crime

crime

What's on Your Christmas List?

‘ Tis the season for Christmas music, sacred, popular, cloying, and migraine-producing. The selection ranges from Wham!’s “Last Christmas” to “O’ Holy Night” performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with plenty in between. One song, in particular, “The 12 Days of Christmas,” seems to have spawned more spoofs and puns and plays on words than there are Salvation Army kettles at the mall. I recently participated in an Author Takeover to promote the Christmas anthology, The 12 Slays of Christmas. I read a P.D. James short story called, “The 12 Clues of Christmas”. I’ve seen ads on social media (and in my email spam folder) for “The 12 Deals of Christmas” and “The 12 Gifts of Christmas.” All in the same week. Everyone is familiar with the plethora of gifts offered over the twelve days from Christmas Day to Epiphany. And whether you believe the gifts have religious symbolism or the song’s just a festive, musical version of a memory game along the lines of “I’m going on a trip,” you have to admit, a) it’s a pretty hefty haul of loot, b) it’s fun to spoof. We Missdemeanors decided we could come up with better gifts than partridges and colly birds. No one needs that much poultry in their lives. What we have to offer, on the other hand? Well, guess that depends on where you live and who you know. We present, “The 12 Days of Crime-mas”. (Sung to the tune of “The 12 Days of Christmas”)On the first day of Christmas, my lawyer gave to me, a card to get out of jail free.On the second day of Christmas, my lawyer gave to me, two pearl-handled revolvers and a card to get out of jail freeOn the third day of Christmas, my lawyer gave to me, three jailbroken iPhones, two pearl-handled revolvers, and a card to get out of jail freeOn the fourth day of Christmas, my lawyer gave to me, four tips on committing perjury, three jailbroken iPhones, two pearl-handled revolvers, and a card to get out of jail freeOn the fifth day of Christmas, my lawyer gave to me, five bullet-proof vests, four tips on committing perjury, three jailbroken iPhones, two pearl-handled revolvers, and a card to get out of jail freeOn the sixth day of Christmas, my lawyer gave to me, six vials of strychnine, five bullet-proof vests, four tips on committing perjury, three jailbroken iPhones, two pearl-handled revolvers and a card to get out of jail free.On the seventh day of Christmas, my lawyer gave to me, seven shallow graves, six vials of strychnine, five bullet-proof vests, four tips on committing perjury, three jailbroken iPhones, two pearl-handled revolvers and a card to get out of jail free.On the eighth day of Christmas, my lawyer gave to me, eight pairs of golden handcuffs, seven shallow graves, six vials of strychnine, five bullet-proof vests, four tips on committing perjury, three jailbroken iPhones, two pearl-handled revolvers and a card to get out of jail free.On the ninth day of Christmas, my lawyer gave to me, nine con men grifting, eight eight pairs of golden handcuffs, seven shallow graves, six vials of strychnine, five bullet-proof vests, four tips on committing perjury, three jailbroken iPhones, two pearl-handled revolvers and a card to get out of jail free.On the tenth day of Christmas, my lawyer gave to me, ten bloodhounds sniffing, nine con men grifting, eight eight pairs of golden handcuffs, seven shallow graves, six vials of strychnine, five bullet-proof vests, four tips on committing perjury, three jailbroken iPhones, two pearl-handled revolvers and a card to get out of jail free.On the eleventh day of Christmas, my lawyer gave to me, eleven victims dying, ten bloodhounds sniffing, nine con men grifting, eight eight pairs of golden handcuffs, seven shallow graves, six vials of strychnine, five bullet-proof vests, four tips on committing perjury, three jailbroken iPhones, two pearl-handled revolvers and a card to get out of jail free.On the twelfth day of Christmas, my lawyer gave to me, twelve suspects lying, eleven victims dying, ten bloodhounds sniffing, nine con men grifting, eight eight pairs of golden handcuffs, seven shallow graves, six vials of strychnine, five bullet-proof vests, four tips on committing perjury, three jailbroken iPhones, two pearl-handled revolvers and a card to get out of jail free.

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B.O.A.T.S. (Based on a True Story)

 I heard information today at work that made me say to myself, “That would make a great movie.” (No details here–it’s an active project.) It got me thinking about other true stories that would make gripping fiction. The art world provides a plethora of material suitable for a ripped-from-the-headlines thriller. Art isn’t nearly as sedate as those 6th grade field trips to dim, musty museums led you to believe. A search of Artsy turned up an article about an agoraphobic photographer who uses Google Street View to take screenshots of the people and landscapes she encounters in her virtual world travels. What if she grabbed a screenshot of a crime committed thousands of miles away? What would this homebound woman do? A deeper dip into Artsy’s archives turns up several articles on the hunt for, recovery of, and restoration of Nazi-looted art. What’s been described as the world’s greatest art theft has already inspired novels, movies, and TV shows: Portrait of a Woman in White, Girl in Hyacinth Blue, The Woman in Gold, and episodes of Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Father Brown, and Agatha Christie’s Marple, to name a few. Newspapers and magazines often feature stranger-than-fiction stories. The Telegraph and Business Insider report on professional mourners hired to grieve at funerals. (Rent A Mourner is a legit UK-based business offering “discreet and professional mourners”.) Turns out, this isn’t a new thing. Mourners for hire date back to ancient Greece and are traditional in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. They’re called moirologists and in 1910, in Paris, threatened to go on strike, complaining of not being paid living wages. Imagine an experienced moirologist noticing something odd about the deceased she’s been hired to mourn. An unusual Mark on the body? A bruise not hidden by the undertaker’s makeup? A face she recognized? I’d be remiss if I failed to mention the Internet and good, old-fashioned eavesdropping as sources for strange-but-true material. Last week I listened, fascinated, as the man at the table next to me recounted how his brother witnessed a massacre during a coup and developed PTSD so severe he suffered violent outbursts that eventually led to a life-or-death fight with the storyteller. Literally life-or-death. Think broken bones, manual strangulation, and bystander intervention. Drama fit for a Man Booker prize. Google “can’t make this stuff up” and get 18 million hits: links to newspaper articles, listicles, blogs, and Facebook pages. Here’s a recent one from FB: a woman breaks into a celebrity’s house (Drake, if you must know) and steals Pepsi, Sprite, Fiji water, and a hoodie. What if an obsessed fan broke into a celebrity’s house and found Nazi-looted art or witnessed his idol committing a crime? What life-imitates-art stories would you like to see fictionalized?

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Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do…

 Another confession. I’m crushing on men who don’t exist. No, I’m not delusional. I have fictional crushes. It’s a thing. Google it. I watched Father Brown, the BBC series streaming on Netflix, last night while doing my taxes. (Filed ’em at 11:55 pm–all hail the Queen of the Last Minute.) By the time I hit send in the e-file program, I realized (read: admitted) I had a crush on Inspector Sullivan and Hercule Flambeau. An odd dichotomy to crush on–a by-the-book law enforcement officer and a ruthless master thief. But they have something in common. They’re both Father Brown’s antagonists. Inspector Sullivan reminds me of Inspector Javert. Not actually a villain, but a man so dedicated to law and order he’s sometimes blinded to the greater cause of justice. Flambeau, on the other hand, is an antagonist along the lines of Professor Moriarty. A criminal mastermind, he’s Father Brown’s true nemesis. What, aside from the skill of the casting director in choosing talented, attractive actors, makes antagonists on-screen (and in-print) crush-worthy? Or at least appealing? Unforgettable? What draws us to the Dexter’s, Jokers, Moriartys, Voldemorts, and, yes, even Lucifers of the fiction world? I doubt there’s a single answer. Each reader and viewer has their own thoughts about what makes a good bad guy. Someone told me they preferred villains who behaved badly because some past experience damaged them. No bad-just-because allowed. I like antagonists who either aren’t villains–the single-minded or overzealous or rigid cop who opposes the unorthodox sleuth but ultimately wants the same thing, to see justice prevail and order restored–or the bad guy who offers some hope, however tiny, of redemption, the villain whose dormant (but not absent) conscience flares up occasionally and spurs them to do the right thing. Some like antagonists who are so well-crafted and fully developed they generate a visceral reaction, even if the reaction is to the completeness of their evil. What do you think makes a bad guy oh-so-good? Do you go for the villain who feels remorse? The one you hope to  (vicariously) save? Or the one you love to hate?

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Best Punishment Ever?

Thriller writers are necessarily consumed with crime and punishment. Who gets off? Who gets caught? Is the killer murdered or sent to prison? Does he or she go free? Our novels are our worlds where we can deliver justice as we see fit, or as we believe it is doled out in real life.  Perhaps this obsession with punishment is one of the reasons that I was drawn to this NPR story: Teens Who Vandalized Historic Schoolhouse With Swastikas Sentenced To Reading. It has been shown that reading fiction improves the ability to empathize, perhaps because it encourages individuals to get into the mind of a character whose circumstances are undoubtedly different from their own. What better way to rehabilitate teenage perpetrators of non-violent hate crimes than by encouraging them to empathize with the people whom they had targeted? The teens were sentenced to go to the Holocaust museum and write a book report per month from a reading list curated by the judge. The books include Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, Khaled Hosseini’s Kite Runner, and Richard Wright’s Native Son. I’ve read all of these and loved them. Two I read in high school and I think they definitely gave me more of an understanding of the legacy of discrimination, both economic and on the collective conscious of those discriminated against. What do you think of the judge’s actions?     

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