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Category: Authors

To High Tech Or Not To High Tech

I had an interesting discussion a few weeks ago with a fellow writer who was complaining that modern technology makes life tough for murder mystery writers.

I argued that technology creates at least as many possibilities as it does problems, (perhaps a rather optimistic pov for someone as tech illiterate as I am.)

But since then, I’ve read a police procedural set in the UK,  ‘The Hope That Kills (A DI Fenchurch Novel Book 1)” by Ed James, in which almost the entire case is solved via CCTV footage. It became a bit of a self made cliche by mid read.

Ed had a number of books under his belt when he wrote this one and it shows. His central character, Simon Fenchurch is different enough to be interesting, and I like that he goes for deep POV, as the psychology of characters really interest me. That said, Fenchurch hears drum riffs in his head whenever he’s under stress, which I found a bit confusing until I got what was going on, although it is a neat effect.

I must also add, that Ed really knows London, which drew me well into the book.

But, back to the impact of technology on our genre, it’s an interesting debate.

Ann Cleeves

Ann Cleeves is one of my favorite murder mystery writers, for several reasons. You’ve probably seen the TV series ‘Vera’ in which one of her best known characters is brought to life by the wonderful Brenda Blethyn.

She sets her novels in places where she’s spent time during her rather varied career – Shetland Islands being a good example – so she’s able to create a remarkably vivid and realistic sense of place.

A theme common to many of her stories is how events in the past, sometimes from long ago, can impact on the present and dictate people’s behavior. I’m happy to admit that it was Ann who led me to try something similar in my first murder mystery, The Man He Didn’t Know.

I particularly like how she takes the time to dig into the psychology of her characters and then realistically reflect it in their thoughts and actions. This makes for slightly slower action, but the sense of being with real people more than makes up for that.