Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. This post would have appeared sooner but the tryptophan hadn't worn off. Today I was thinking of some of my favorite targets. Not individuals but institutions. Not specific villains but a pattern of behavior. The evil of committees, the casual denial of the bureaucrat.
Crime fiction appeals because unlike real life, it has a clear moral compass, with characters willing to do the right thing regardless of the sacrifice, the limits of law or the constraints of society. Often the protagonist, whether PI, rogue cop or regular Joe, is the one standing up for the underdog, taking on the powerful and the corrupt on behalf of the little guy. As you think about your own writing or favorite authors, it's interesting to consider if you have any favorite targets.
I often find myself gravitating towards novels unafraid to go after organizations that act above reproach but all too often are picking your pocket with one hand while patting your back with the other. Politicians and the media are easy targets, especially today. Dig below the surface of any major criminal enterprise and you’ll probably find someone using your tax dollars to subsidize it or leveraging the media to put a spin on it. I think crime fiction can bring some perspective to both that hypocrisy and our contradictory nature, that we live in a society in which we’re all in on the joke and yet the same scams keep happening. That’s a very human condition, which makes it perfect fodder for fiction.