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‘a delightful amateur sleuth novel with a well balanced mix of domestic and academic life and a strong sense of place.’ [Stage Fright]

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Why don’t people close their curtains in crime dramas?

Posted on Sep 28, 2015 in Beck, clichés, crime fiction | 2 Comments

Time for some more crime fiction clichés. Last Saturday’s episode of Beck began with a gangster and his family narrowly escaping being shot. Later, at home at night, he is an easy target standing next to a picture window in a well-lit room and is picked off by a sniper. Surely closing the curtains or blind was an obvious precaution to take?

Here’s one suggested by my friend Dorte on Facebook: she says that every time she and her husband see someone walking a dog, they know a body is about to be discovered. Yes!

Sarah Rayne is tired of the police officer who arrives at the crime scene and says, ‘OK, what have we got here?’ I’ll add that I wish I had a fiver for every time I’ve heard him or her say ‘Listen up!’ back at the station.

And what about this one? The plain clothes officers are in a car waiting for a suspect to show up. When he arrives, they get out and they start running after him BEFORE he has spotted them, thus alerting him to their presence.

Here is one that was fresh when it was first used, but now we can see it coming: exterior shots of the police closing in on a building alternate with interior shots of the villain about to dispatch a victim. We are meant to assume it’s the same building, but when the police burst in, the place is deserted: they were different buildings.

It’s not easy within the parameters of the genre to find original ways of doing things, I know that and I sympathize, but the best writers do find ways.

2 Comments

  1. Sue Hepworth
    October 5, 2015

    Oh yes! When the detectives start running before they have been spotted! That happens a lot in the early US Law and Order.

    Reply

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