Friday, 15 July 2011

Death Imitating Art

By Richard Jay Parker

Was chatting with another writer this week about a storyline she formulated which outlined the perfect murder.  She then became concerned that putting it out there might inspire somebody to copy the method.

Is it likely that readers will be tempted to adopt the techniques of a fictional murderer?  It's highly likely that anyone 'inspired' by extreme violence in the media has psychotic tendencies already but whoa there - books and movies influencing people is a whole debate on its own.

Let's just say that a reader is tempted to employ a mode of killing they've seen or read.  Would there be any point?  If it were a work of fiction that was in the public domain surely too many people would be able to identify it. Perhaps putting it out there effectively bars its likelihood of becoming part of a real life investigation.

It begs another question - do the police and those higher have an awareness of the huge volume of creative albeit fictional crimes that healthily rotate on the shelves of our bookshops?

With the amount of paperwork they have to contend with I seriously doubt it so surely it would be readers who would spot any similarities between fiction and reality.  I haven't heard of any instances of this but I'd love to hear if anyone has.

Maybe copying a famous storyline would be the ultimate example of reverse psychology - why would anyone copy a well known plot and expect to get away with it?

Strangers On A Train is a great movie.  The idea of two murderers swapping intended victims to leave them unconnected to the crimes seems like the perfect murder.  Perhaps it has happened in real life but we've never got to hear about it because who would believe somebody would be stupid enough to emulate Highsmith's novel and Hitchcock's movie...

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