by Meredith Cole
First of all I would like it to be known for the record that murderers are not my favorite people. They're often creepy or have bad moral compasses--and are certainly not the type of people I'd like to invite to a party at my house. That's why I write books where someone spends 300 pages trying to catch murderers--and does. And even when the murderer is creepily charming, I still can't help thinking that they've done "it" once, and could probably do "it" again.
I know that some people murder to stop a larger evil or to stop someone who is dangerous. Many murderers could be put in this category (Dexter is a prime example), but they still give me the heebie-jeebies. What if they're wrong? What if they grab the wrong person? And where does their brand of frontier justice end?
I'm also not sure how to answer this question without revealing the ending of most books. I mean, if I reveal that so-and-so is the murderer (and my favorite) in a mystery, I've basically spoiled the experience of reading it for you. Which would be a big bummer. So I won't.
There are some books where you know the identity of the murderer from the beginning. Ruth Rendell has written some amazing books in this style. I enjoy the books, but rarely "like" the murderer (even if I spend the book in his or her head). Again, there's that creepiness factor.
Bad guys aside, if you're in the Richmond area, be sure to come by the Library of Virginia on January 9th for the launch of the book VIRGINIA IS FOR MYSTERIES. Two Sisters in Crime chapters worked together to create an anthology of short mystery stories set in Virginia. I have a short story called MURDER AT MONTICELLO which involves an heirloom tomato and a historic Virginia mansion--and I really hope doesn't get me sued by either tomato growers or any Thomas Jefferson historians. I'll also be signing books at the Edgar Allan Poe museum in Richmond on January 18th to celebrate the 205th birthday of Poe.
Happy New Year!