As both a serving police officer and a crime writer, I’m only too aware of the many ways in which people break the law. What’s different about murder is that it captures everyone’s attention like nothing else. This is true whether it’s something on the news, happening in our community or a fictionalised and therefore much safer version, in books.
Murder fascinates and horrifies people and because of that, writers will write about it and know that readers want to read about it. Thankfully, it’s a crime that few of us will be touched by and so, I suppose, that’s why it attracts people to its fictional counterpart. It’s a less dangerous way of becoming involved in it, and no one has actually been killed.
My books Never Forget and Remember, Remember feature murder investigations as their core, largely because it’s a business I know well. I work as a detective constable within a department that investigates murders, as well as other serious crimes. What I’ve also included in my novels are elements of burglary, drugs, corruption and theft. I felt it was important to show how they are often all linked together, and the protagonist, detective constable Nina Foster, discovers along the way that murder is rarely the only and first crime a person commits.
Sadly, there are dozens of ways that people can - and do - inflict hurt and suffering on each other, so I don’t think that I’ll ever run out of things to write about. Kidnaps and abductions are also subjects that can make a fantastic read, but present a real problem for me to write about. I’ve prided myself on writing police procedurals based on accurate methods of investigation, although I would never reveal any tactic that would put someone’s life in danger or jeopardise an investigation. There are certain parts of police work surrounding a hostage’s safety that I couldn’t reveal, and being completely honest with you, they really don’t tell me everything. It’s on a need to know basis, and I’m not important enough.
If this is all sounding like a somewhat depressing read, I have added a fair amount of humour to my books, not only to lighten the mood a little, but to show the coping mechanisms used by police officers in stressful situations. It is never about finding murder funny, as there is nothing amusing about it. It is, however, a way of getting through the unpleasantness and coming through the other side. Most of the banter in the Nina Foster books and indeed in real life, takes place between colleagues.
Strangely, I feel a lot more comfortable writing about murder than I would about rape. I’m not too sure why that is, and I don’t think it comes down to being a woman. I just find it abhorrent.
Sometimes, of course, it is the fear of being a victim of crime rather than the crime itself that incapacitates people. That opens us a whole new category of crime without any actual physical contact. Stalking and on line bullying incidents are increasing all the time. Not knowing who the perpetrator is must be a truly terrifying way to live your life, and I hate to point this out, but if someone is murdered, the police resources and budget know no bounds. It isn’t the same for most other crimes, even though someone else’s actions may completely destroy an innocent person’s life.
It may sound as though I’m not leaving myself very many topics to pick from but I’ve seen for over eighteen years as a police officer, the unpleasant things people do to each other. I don’t think I’ll ever run out of ideas.
Remember Remember by Lisa Cutts is out now from Myriad Editions for £7.99