Monday, February 25, 2013

My Gruesome Homework

by Kate Collins

My bookclub passed on my suggestion for this month's read. I figured I'd throw it out there, since I'm reading it anyway. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, no one thought it was a good idea. Not that I blame them. If it wasn't for research, I wouldn't have picked it up.

The name of the book is, "The Science of Cold Case Files," by Katherine Ramsland.  It's full of the actual stories behind the TV series, "Cold Case Files." Gruesome is a good word for the contents, but because the mystery I'm writing now involves a long-buried body, I needed to know what bones would look like after 40 years of interment.

Let me tell you, it ain't pretty. And neither are the stories in the book. The most horrifying part isn't what happens when a body decomposes, it's that these are real cases. Real murders. Real torture. I can't pretend it's all going to be wrapped up neatly after 55 minutes. These stories didn't have happy endings.

 I'm just appalled by what human beings are capable of, what one human, who was born a tiny innocent baby, can do to another. I'll be very glad to be done with this research. We watch these TV shows and grow insensitive to some extent because we know they're not real. Yet right now, in my hometown, there's a murder trial in progress involving a suspect who's a young man and a victim who was a young woman on the verge of going to college. It's all too real.

I write mysteries because I love solving puzzles, and even better, I love creating them. I write traditional, or cozy, mysteries because i hate gore. I would hate writing it even more. In "cozies" the murders happen off the page. We don't have to witness those gruesome scenes.

Why do you read cozies? Do you feel the murders on TV have desensitized us to the real life murders that occur every day?