Friday, August 5, 2011

Holding out for a hero

by Meredith Cole

Everyone needs a hero. For some sleuths, it's a cool James Bond type of person who stays cool under pressure and knows how to kick some serious butt. For others, it's a super smart computer guy who can break any code and never break a sweat. Or, for still others, it's someone with a strong code of honor who is relentless when he/she goes after the bad guys. So who is my sleuth Lydia McKenzie's hero?

Perhaps it's easier to say who isn't Lydia's hero. It certainly isn't her bosses. Although they're licensed private investigators who get hired to find people and solve cases, Leo and Frankie D'Angelo are pretty lazy guys. Their dad started the business, and they just stepped into his shoes. Leo knows his way around the computer, but both appear to miss countless clues when they go out on the job. They also, to Lydia's disgust, take awful stake-out pictures.

So who does she dream of being? Certainly not some crazy female ninja fighter. She's got too much common sense (and not enough brute strength) to do well at that. She took a self-defense class once, but she knows her limits. Her real power lies in her brain and photography skills, not her fighting prowess. Besides, she still doesn't know the first thing about guns or karate.

If Lydia had to "be" anyone in the world, she would probably choose to be the photographer Cindy Sherman. Cindy Sherman did self-portraits starting in the 1970's of herself as various film noir characters. The photos certainly inspired Lydia's work. But Cindy is no sleuth, or super hero. She's commenting on the iconic images in movies, and commenting on the stereotyping of women in our culture. But her powers of observation and her ability to disappear into her work are useful to Lydia when she's looking for a killer, and make her an interesting sleuth.

5 comments:

romantic hero said...

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Gabi said...

I'm going to go check out Cindy Sherman. Personally, I think anyone willing to publish a self-portrait/photograph has what it takes to be called superhero. Nerves of steel...

Michael Wiley said...

I also love the idea of Cindy Sherman as investigator: her photographs always seem to see deep into the life (and death?) of people.

Meredith Cole said...

You should definitely check her out, Gabi! Cindy Sherman's work is really brave--often strange but always unique.

Meredith Cole said...

Thanks Michael! Photographers always have such an interesting way of looking at the world... Seems to fit well with a sleuth who is trying to peel away the layers to reveal hidden truths.