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

>Keith Deutsch wrote:
>Every time I see another Prey cover for sale in drugstores, and strip mall
emporiums (which
>is often) I wonder what the series has that attracts the mass audience.

There are a lot of mass audience favorites out there that are totally inexplicable, but I think I've got this one figured. As was mentioned, the Prey books are comics for adults and we like comics whether we care to admit it or not. More important, and this is key - all of the Prey books, and the Cornwell-Scarpeta books, and 98% of the mystery bestsellers are about psycho serial killers. No writer ever went broke (or had to stay up late working out plots) by following the Jack the Ripper formula. Why? As any actor can tell you, it's the bad guy roles that get the notices. Bad guys are more fun, more exciting. In the past, writers like Chandler and Hammett and Macdonald often had villains who committed multiple murders but they were usually motivated by greed or jealousy or anger. Believable things. And they never upstaged the detective. These books required a talent for characterization and an ability to portray crime in a somewhat realistic manner. By using the Ripper formula, you don't have to concern yourself with realism. Who needs a fully dimensional murderer? Just make him a wacky genius with a particular tic. He likes to poke out eyes because he saw Mommie kissing Santa Claus. He likes to remove livers from brunette females because his older sister would steal the liver off his breakfast plate. His deeds don't need a lot of motivation as long as they're oddball and gaudy. And these neo-Rippers never have to worry about mundane things like bad luck or witnesses or natural occurrences upsetting their intricate schemes. How did Chandler put it? God sits in their lap. These books have much more in common with cozies than they do with realistic or hardboiled novels. Patricia Cornwell recently took a newspaper to task for reviewing her latest novel in the "Mysteries" column. She considers her books crime novels. Actually, she's the new Agatha Christie and should be pleased as punch to have fit into such expensive shoes. Dick Lochte

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