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... And less of some other stuff.

This was meant to be a quick addition to my previous post on Dennis Lehane and SINCE WE FELL.  I pulled it out of that post because I found I had some small things to say about the Serial Killers genre.

I read UNSUB by Meg Gardner and was let down by it. Months-long positive press raised a lot of hopes at Hungry Detective HQ. I like books about Serial Killers. I have read a ton of them. If you can believe it, before Nordic Fiction there was Serial Killer fiction...hard to imagine I know.

But what most writers get wrong, and even Thomas Harris eventually got wrong about the Serial Killer genre, is that characters like Hannibal Lector only work in small doses. An author can spend 300 pages waxing rhapsodic about the preternatural abilities of their serial killer but eventually, the story will demand you spend the last act undoing all of it because justice must done. The Hannibal Lector's of the fiction world are incredibly confining characters to write and read. They are characters too smart to be dumb enough to get caught. It is not a great analogy* but the television show Dexter is a good example of this. A wonderful show that suffers in their final season(s) because the end is nigh to impossible to write. Nothing makes narrative or emotional sense. It can neither be real or authentic, only contrived.

I read RED DRAGON and SILENCE OF THE LAMBS probably 25 years ago at this point. And without a doubt, Hannibal Lector is a singular creation, an all-timer. It is just too bad that everyone is still writing Lector knockoffs instead of writing characters like the fallible and horrific ordinariness of Francis Dolarhyde and Jame Gumb because they are the true zenith of the genre.


*[Editors Note: It is not a great analogy because I think the Dexter character of the TV show is pretty amazing. A wonderful messy fully formed creation. My point still stands because the show failed to bring a proper reckoning to Dexter. And more to the point I don't know if a logical....leaving aside the notion that the ending also needs to be compelling... narrative conclusion could even be constructed at all. Strangely the best solution might have been to cancel the show after season 5. At least that would be authentic to the situation of Serial Killers existing unknown, unchecked, and unrepentant in the world.]

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