RARA-AVIS: coincidence

From: Dick Lochte ( dlock@ix.netcom.com)
Date: 18 Feb 2000

I don't think you can have fiction that's free of coincidence. Especially crime fiction. When a particular detective or cop hero gets involved in a particular murder case, that's a coincidence. When evidence or information turns up that solves a crime, there's usually an element of coincidence. It's all in the way the coincidence is handled. In Michael Connelly's new book, "Void Moon," a convicted thief serves her time, gets out and winds up having to rob precisely the same Las Vegas casino-hotel where she was previously arrested. Connelly prepares you for the coincidence. It's treated almost as inevitability, the kind of bad luck that is a staple of nearly all dark fiction. Good storytelling coincidence. On the other hand, you have the coincidence that comes out of left field to make the plot work. In one of Grisham's novels a lawyer steals an important document from a maximum security office building and makes a clean getaway . . . only to be sent to the hospital by a drunk driver whom we've never met before nor will hear of again. In "Absolute Power," a thief hides out in a walk-in safe that happens to have a one-way mirror that gives him a clear view of the president of the United States getting involved in a sordid murder. Maybe we can buy the thief robbing the place on precisely the same night that the prez picks to pay a visit. But what's with that one-way mirror in a safe? What possible purpose would there be for such a construction, except to kick start a novel? Not that millions of readers seem to mind. Dick Lochte

# To unsubscribe, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to majordomo@icomm.ca.
# The web pages for the list are at http://www.miskatonic.org/rara-avis/ .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 18 Feb 2000 EST