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Blog Archive April 2011

Who is Watching Your Back?

In Search of Demons

In the Vincent Calvino series the private eye has a number of people watching his back: a Royal Thai police colonel, his secretary and a friend or two. The idea of watching each other’s back isn’t confined to crime fiction. It is the staple of most novels everywhere. And there is a reason for the pervasiveness of protecting each other, providing security and support to others. We can tell a great deal about a man or woman by knowing something about the people who watch their back.

We can also tell a lot about a novelist in the way he or she writes about human collaboration. Other species collaborate but no species other than ours has refined collaboration and scaled it beyond a handful of others. It is likely that the reason there are nearly 7 billions of us is a testament to our skill at collaboration on an epic scale.

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Posted: 4/28/2011 10:42:23 PM 


The End of Neutrality

I grew up in a world where it was expected that judges and juries would be neutral. That neutrality was an essential mechanism to resolve conflicts. Countries were also neutral. Places like Sweden and Switzerland had a long history of not taking sides, by staying on the sidelines, as other European countries took off their gloves and brawled in the streets.

I don’t recognize neutrality in the modern world. I’ve been searching everywhere for the retreating remnants of that defeated army called neutrality. People are not just expected but required to take sides. “Either you’re with us or against us,” said that great American philosopher George W. Bush. If there was ever a phrase that marked the end of an era, it came the date that phrase was uttered.

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Posted: 4/21/2011 10:10:48 PM 


THE DEATH OF HEROES and the End of the Sacred

What drives the current interest in noir fiction is that the stories validate our worst fear. There are no longer any heroes who will ride to the rescue, put things right between those in conflict. What has happened to the heroes who rose above the crowd to serve the large community interest? Or did those people always live deep in mythology and not the real world?

I write a crime series about a private eye, Vincent Calvino, who works inside a system of vanished heroes. Many of the Calvino readers like the realism of the novels and critics have commented on their authentic insight into Thai culture.

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Posted: 4/14/2011 9:26:47 PM 



Crime authors are accustomed to killing off characters in their novels. In this fictional world, a man’s life might not be worth more than a dime on longshoreman’s payday. We have no problem dispatching the evil, malignant, cruel, and selfish megalomaniac. In fact our readers often like those scenes when the bad guys expiry date is reached. If we reflect on this ‘liking’ for a moment, one has to admit there is a shared bond between author and reader over the necessity of killing the bad and protecting the good. We are natural born killers.

There are three intersecting worlds of killers and victims. There is the individual killer. He or she might be a hit man, a crazed ideological or religion-inspired zealot, an emotional hothead, a cold-blooded gang leader looking to keep his control and authority. We search out, arrest and punish these people. Then there are the corporate killers. Profit motive leads to killing to meet the next quarter’s results or the share price falls. Jay Gould, a famous American 19th century oligarch said, “I can hire one half the working-class to kill the other half.” That profit at any cost attitude hasn’t changed much in many parts of the world. And last, the killing machine of last resort, the one we agree has the right to kill in our name: the Nation-State.

Read more: http://www.internationalcrimeauthors.com/

Posted: 4/7/2011 10:51:19 PM 



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