Showing posts with label Nightmare Next Door. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nightmare Next Door. Show all posts

01 December 2015

Happy Murder. Happy Murder?


by Paul D. Marks

Many of those who read this blog are mystery writers of one subgenre or another. Most of the rest are mystery readers or people interested in crime. There are lots of theories as to why people read mysteries. One of the most popular is to see justice win in the end, which it often doesn’t in real life. Of course, this doesn’t apply to noir where almost everyone meets an unhappy end, but then there are exceptions to every rule.

I often wonder if there really is more crime today or if, because of the ubiquitous media, we just know about it. In the olden days if you lived in Los Angeles and a crime occurred in Atlanta it’s unlikely you heard about it unless it was the most sensational crime imaginable. But today with the 24 hour news cycle and competing media outlets looking to fill all that time we hear about every little pin prick. And the local news, at least here in LA, often leads with every drive-by, road rage incident and other crime they can find. After all if it bleeds, it leads.

But what’s a person to do in the middle of the day or the middle of the night when you’ve got that jones on for murder? Well, we here probably hope you’ll read one of our books (see end of this post). But what if you want the real thing? Well, let’s say the real thing once removed. You turn on the tube and look for the Murder Channel, I mean Discovery ID. Murder, Mayhem and Madness 24/7. Who could ask for more in 21st Century America?

A few years ago when my wife and I were watching TV and a commercial came on we’d flip to the Home and Garden Channel in the interim. (Yeah, I know.) Then we started flipping to various “murder shows” on the commercials. They hook you. You’d watch three minutes and you were in for the duration. They grab you the way a good novel does and, I hate to say it, maybe more so because they’re real. Real lives at stake in every episode and a new cliffhanging episode beginning at the top of the hour to give you your fix and keep you hooked.

I sometimes tell myself I watch these shows to get ideas, not only for overall plots, but for specifics of how to carry out crimes and “get away with them” in my stories. I lie. I watch because they hook me, like heroin does an addict. And like an addict I want more. I want to see what happens next, to try to figure out who really done it. Is it really the husband? He seems like the most likely suspect. Or is that too obvious? The red herring?

And I get annoyed when one show does the same story as another. I want fresh blood.
These shows are not just good for story ideas, but also as a fascinating look at society and human nature. It amazes me how little people will murder over, whether over a small financial amount or a perceived insult. It’s hard to understand how someone can do these things to another human being—even if the marriage is on the rocks or the person cheated you in business or fired you from your job—is it really worth it to do that? And how can you go to that extreme measure and be that cold blooded? Yeah, it’s worth ruining my life and going to jail for twenty years because I want to buy a new boat or car or XBox and need that life insurance money. Or I don’t want my boss to find out I embezzled money. And how many people choose murder as the way out of a bad, or even not so bad, marriage, because they want money, freedom or are having an affair or whatever? Haven’t they heard of divorce? Yeah, there’s alimony and all that, but it’s better than sharing a 6’ X 8’ cell with Bubba.

I have to admit watching these shows makes me a little insecure sometimes. So I turn to my wife and
say, “Just divorce me, don’t kill me.” If she asks to up my life insurance or gives me a sweet green drink that she says is Kool Aid, but there’s an empty anti-freeze container in the trash, I know I’m in trouble.

And, of course, almost always, the person murdered is the most wonderful, sweetest, kindest and most beautiful person in the world, male or female. It’s pretty rare that someone will come out and say that John Doe was a bastard and deserved to die. But I have to admit I do wonder sometimes if the families of the deceased are upset when the actors portraying their loved ones are not as attractive as the real people...

There are shows for every taste and every location, from Evil Kin and Momsters: When Moms Go
Bad (w/ a smiling Roseanne Barr...) to Swamp Murders and neighbors from hell on The Nightmare Next Door, which sounds like a bad horror movie title, but these are real horrors. There is one show that I don’t like as much as some of the others, Disappeared. And the reason is because there is often no resolution. People disappear, never to be heard from again and it leaves one, at least this one, with an unsatisfying feeling. Another show that I don’t watch much, if I remember the name, is Twisted. It’s just too twisted.

Obviously I’m not the only person that likes these shows as evidenced by the multitude of them popping up all the time (see list below). People are fascinated by murder. And maybe this is part of why murder mysteries and crime novels are so popular. We want to understand—even as we are repelled by the idea. And if I’ve offended anyone with my attempts at black humor in this piece I’m sorry. Gallows humor is the only way I know to handle these things.

Some Discovery ID Titles – Let the titles do the talking:
50 Ways To Leave Your Lover
Alaska: Ice Cold Killers'"
American Occult
A Crime to Remember
A Stranger In My Home
Bad Teachers
Beauty Queen Murders
Behind Mansion Walls (currently airing under reruns)
Bloodlands
Blood, Lies, and Alibis
Blood Relatives
Breaking Point
Catch My Killer
Cause of Death
Cold Blood
Cry Wolfe
Cuff Me If You Can
Dangerous Persuasions
Dateline on ID
Dates From Hell
Dark Minds
Deadline: Crime With Tamron Hall
Dead of Night
Deadly Affairs
Deadly Devotion
Deadly Sins
Deadly Women
Death By Gossip with Wendy Williams
Did He Do It?
Do Not Disturb: Hotel Horrors
Evil-in-Law
Evil Twins
Evil, I
Evil Kin
Facing Evil with Candice DeLong
Fatal Encounters
Fatal Vows
FBI: Criminal Pursuit
Fear Thy Neighbor
Frenemies: Loyalty Turned Lethal
Happily Never After
Handsome Devils
Hate In America
Heartbreakers
Hell House
Homicide Hunter
House of Horrors: Kidnapped
How (Not) To Kill Your Husband
I (Almost) Got Away With It
I'd Kill for You
In the Line of Fire
Indecent Proposal
Injustice Files
Inspire a Difference
Karma's a B*tch!
Killer Instinct with Chris Hansen
Last Seen Alive
Let's Kill Mom
Momsters: When Moms Go Bad
Most Evil
Most Infamous
Most Likely To...
Motives & Murders
Murder Book
Murder Comes to Town
Murder in Paradise
My Dirty Little Secret
My Strange Criminal Addiction
Nightmare Next Door
Nowhere to Hide
Obsession: Dark Desires
On the Case with Paula Zahn
On Death Row
Over My Dead Body
Poisoned Passions
Pretty Dangerous
Pretty Bad Girls
Redrum
Scorned: Love Kills
Secret Lives of Stepford Wives
See No Evil
Serial Thriller: Angel of Decay
Serial Thriller: The Chameleon
Sex Sent Me to the Slammer
Sins and Secrets
Southern Fried Homicide
Stalked: Someone's Watching
Stolen Voices, Buried Secrets
Surviving Evil
Suspicion
Swamp Murders
Tabloid
The Devil You Know
The Killing Hour
The Mind of a Murderer
The Perfect Murder
The Worst Thing I Ever Did
True Crime with Aphrodite Jones
True Nightmares
Twisted
Twisted Tales of 9 to 5
Unraveled
Untouchable: Power Corrupts
Unusual Suspects
Vanity Fair Confidential
Very Bad Men
Web of Lies
Wives with Knives
Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry?
Who the (Bleep)...
The Will
Wicked Attraction
Women in Prison
Young, Hot & Crooked
Your Worst Nightmare
But never fear, if you’ve already seen everything on Discovery ID there’s several other channels that play murder shows off and on all day long, but of course only Discovery ID will serve your 24 hour jones.

*** *** ***

And now for the usual BSP stuff:

Down and Out Books is putting a whole bunch of great books on sale for 99¢ for the next two weeks, including Coast to Coast: Murder from Sea to Shining Sea, with mystery stories from such luminaries as 4 Time Edgar Winner and Co-Creator of “Columbo,” William Link • Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Bill Pronzini • Scribner Crime Novel Winner William G. Tapply • Shamus Winner Paul D. Marks • EQMM Readers Award Winner Bob Levinson • Al Blanchard Award Winner James Shannon • Derringer Award Winner Stephen D. Rogers • Sherlock Holmes Bowl Winner Andrew McAleer and other poisoned-pen professionals like Judy Travis Copek • Sheila Lowe • Gayle Bartos-Pool • Thomas Donahue


And my new noir-thriller Vortex is also on sale in e-form for 99¢.

“…a nonstop staccato action noir… Vortex lives up to its name, quickly creating a maelstrom of action and purpose to draw readers into a whirlpool of intrigue and mystery… but be forewarned: once picked up, it's nearly impossible to put down before the end.” 

—D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

 
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