September 20, 2011

Libya & NATO: The biggest murder mystery of all

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 2:58 pm

Here I am, off in St. Louis, Missouri, attending the 41st annual BoucherCon convention, a hugely entertaining and highly informative gathering of over 1,800 murder-mystery writers and their fans. It’s pretty much crime-novel heaven here. I bet you would love it.

The first thing I did after arriving in St Louis was to take the MetroLink in from the airport and chase chickens around my friend Patrick’s back yard. Then I went off to attend a BoucherCon panel discussion on why murder mysteries are important.

“Crime novels give us the freedom to explore characters’ deepest dimensions,” stated one author — was it Colin Cotterill, Sara Paretsky, Laurie R. King, Joseph Finder, Ridley Pearson, Robert Crais, Val McDermid, Charlaine Harris or Kelli Stanley? I forget. “They also give us a chance to express values, uncover the truth about past occurrences and to pursue social justice. Mystery stories are the voices of social justice today.” Hey, that’s deep.

Then another author stated that, “Writing about killing off bad guys or getting revenge on them is cheaper than therapy….” And probably better than Prozac.

So after listening to all these authors go on and on about how wonderful their craft was, I decided to try my hand at writing a murder mystery myself. Here it is:

“As winter approached, all of Europe lay under a chilling black haze of economic free-fall. Greece was hovering close to the nightmarish throes of bankruptcy. Britons were rioting like soccer fans because they were upset by all the Victoria’s Secret ads they had watched on TV without having the money to buy enough push-up bras to keep themselves from sagging (economically speaking). And jobs in America were disappearing like popcorn at a B-movie.” So far, so good.

And now that I’ve luridly described the crime scene, all I have to do now is track down the bad guys who are causing all this misery and then put them in check. Means, motive and opportunity, right?

However, at this point my exciting new crime novel begins to go off the track and wanders into a tangled web of smoke screens thrown off by the bad guys — who are now committing another horrendous crime somewhere else in order to distract attention from their original crimes. Aha. The plot thickens.

“Before brave Inspector Stillwater can finish solving the crimes in Europe and America, the bad guys have gone off and bombed Libya!”

Hey you guys, no! I’m supposed to be bringing you to justice here, not letting you run hog-wild off in the Sahara, becoming serial killers yet again and cold-bloodily slaying even more people and even more seriously ruining the economies of Europe and America!

The cost of even a few of those deadly NATO bombing raids on Tripoli alone could have put Greece back on its feet for a year or employed every jobless guy in Florida and Ohio between Christmas and the 2012 election.

“Now D.I. Jane is really up against it. Now she has to find and apprehend these bad guys for committing even more heinous crimes. Will just a single street-level detective be able to stand between the Free World and crime sprees on an unimaginable scale?” And will I also be able to find a mainstream publisher for my book? More than likely not — even though there’s definitely a lot of mystery and murder in my story. And definitely a lot of bad guys.

But this book probably wouldn’t sell very well anyway. Why? Because what self-respecting murder-mystery fan would ever believe for an instant that so many Europeans and Americans would be so stupid as to be so complicit in all these crimes — turning a blind eye while these truly evil bad guys get away with the Crime of the Century.

What decent crime-fiction fan in their right mind would ever believe a plot that allows evil bad guys to steal hundreds and hundreds of billions of tax dollars and then waste them on murdering complete strangers in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and Libya — while our own economies are being murdered back home? That just wouldn’t make sense.

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