Sunday, 26 January 2014

Hey Dexter, Eat Your Heart Out!

A couple of weeks ago I had the great fortune to be pointed in the direction of a free online Introduction to Forensics course at Strathclyde University (many thanks to Chris Longmuir). Without hesitation I enrolled and proceeded to develop a thin veneer of forensics knowledge, having noticed my deficit when recently starting to write a murder mystery.

If someone in your street today tried to commit the perfect murder they would surely fail. In the old days only Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Columbo and Miss Marple had the honed detective intellect to deduce motive, method, perpetrator, weapon and time of event from the few scant clues. Nowadays, thanks to the proliferation of modern entertainment media, we are all experts. True crime documentaries, CSI, Criminal Minds, Dexter, Sherlock and other TV programmes contribute to the societal knowledge of methods of murder, criminal profiling and forensics.

We congratulate ourselves on having already identified the killer before the on-screen characters manage to do so. A dodgy-looking individual lurks in their van near the schoolyard, looking at the kids. Kidnapper. A man smoothes his greasy hair, smiling as he ascends the stairs from the cellar, boning knife in hand. Serial killer. A woman smiles encouragement at her distraught injured child but drops the expression when she looks at the camera. Psychopath. The question for the consumer of these delights is often not who did what, where and when and how, but rather the why. We know who did it because we’ve been presented with enough evidence to convict an elephant. What we want to know is why they did what they did. Read more on Authors Electric ...