by Melodie Campbell (Bad Girl)
You have to admire the Brits. If they have a successful crime
series, they don't automatically grow it
1. The protagonist sleuth is the murder suspect.
far, this one has me fired up to throw things. Inevitably, every
long-running series has one episode where the Detective Inspector, the
PI or the well-respected amateur sleuth, becomes the prime suspect for a
murder well into the series. Into jail they go. They've done it with
Father Brown. They've done it with Don Matteo. Hinterland. You name
it. Whenever I see this happening, I grit my teeth. Why?
plot is boring, man. Obviously, they didn't do it. If they did, then
it is 'series over'. And it can't be series over, because there are
several episodes left, or a new season to download, and I can see that
right on the screen. So all we're doing is tediously waiting for the
sidekicks to get proof that our beloved protagonist didn't do it.
2. The protagonist and/or sidekick is held hostage.
is the second plot trope that has me screaming Italian curse words at
the screen. This month, it was Don Matteo and Rosewood. You can name
others. And again, this is boring. If they are all killed and don't get
out, end of show. But there are more episodes, so they obviously get
away. If we know the ending at the beginning, what's the pleasure in
3. The police officer protagonist is hated by his immediate superior.
of the reasons I like Endeavor is because Morse's boss Thursday is such
a good guy to young Morse. In so many shows, including the original
Morse, the detective superintendent or chief constable behaves like an
out-of-control teen, lambasting our hero with manic fury. He hates the
protagonist, for no good reason we can see. Or is it that he is so
insecure, he can't stand someone who makes him and his department look
good? How demeaning. By all that's holy, make this stop.
4. Young female sargeant has affair with older boss.
we all learned in the 80s and 90s: you don't have an affair with your
boss. It's stupid. It's career-killing. It's also unethical, if he's
married or you're married. And yet, time after time we see this on the
screen. STILL. IN 2018.
I cringe, because it
perpetuates the ancient stereotype that young female police officers are
not serious about their jobs. They are slaves to their emotions. They
are willing to risk all for romance. Writers, DON'T take me back to
the seventies. Just don't.
5. The male Detective Inspector invites prime female suspect/witness to a romantic dinner.
to the 'affair with the boss' above, this scenario gives high-ranking
police officers I've talked to apoplexy. No police officer is that
Look, we all understand that tension is
ramped up if there is personal involvement. But come on, writers!
Don't make our extremely professional boys (and girls) in blue look
adolescent. It's insulting.
Just do the right thing. Tell us a damn good story. And wrap things up before you sink to these tropes.
Melodie Campbell writes seriously wild comedy. You can find her latest crime books (The Bootlegger's Goddaughter and The B-Team) at all the usual suspects. See this latest ad in Mystery Scene Magazine. www.melodiecampbell.com