It’s March and that means madness. And one thing that makes me mad is tired old tropes in the mystery genre. You know the ones: flat, cardboard characters and recycled plots that have worn out their welcome, or at least need to go on an extended vacation.
Now is your chance to make your voice heard. Below you’ll see the top eight worst offenders in the overused crime cliché category. Time to figure out which causes the most madness among readers.
Sure, some may still work, but some may be so tired they need to be taken out back of the shed and shot. Of course, you may like some and will never tire of them. Then get in there and vote! Defend your favorites and vote to exile the ones that burn your eyeballs!
1. Hit Men vs. Serial Killers
As protagonists go, these have certainly been two of the most popular. But is it time for them to go? Read enough thrillers and you’d be tempted to think that killers lurk in every shadow and that everywhere you go there is a rifle scope peering down on you from a high building. Maybe these two cliches should only appear as often as they do in real life—which is almost never. But you decide which is targeted for death.
2. Riding the coattails of Sherlock Holmes vs. “One Last Job”
Using Sherlock Holmes as a jumping off point has become quite popular lately. Really the granddaddy of all detectives has never gone away. But is relying on a century-old character cheating?
And what of that fabled “one last job." As soon as you read that, don’t you assume it’s not going to go very well? Which of these needs to be dropped from our bookshelves?
3. The alcoholic P.I. vs. Old school Italian Mafia
It seemed for a time in the 1950s that the only kind of P.I. around was the alcoholic. And undoubtedly there has been some great fiction to come from the soused gumshoes, but maybe it’s time for the old boys to dry out a bit.
And despite the efforts of the Italian American anti-defamation league, we still like our mafiosos to be greasy, Brooklyn-accented goombahs who smell like Nana’s meatballs and break knees like a Corleone. Question is, which one do you like better, the meatball or the drunk? Or should they both be eliminated?
4. Paranormal Crime Solvers vs. Culinary Sleuths (who share recipes)
Not as tried and true or time tested as the alcoholic P.I. or the Mob Boss, but in recent years the fantasy crime solver has become a mainstay. Be they witches, warlocks, seers, soothsayers, vampires, werewolves or just ordinary citizens who can see dead people, might it not be time to come back to reality for a little while?
And I used to think a winery, a bakery or a cheese shop would be among the safest places on earth. Not so, according to the rash of food-themed murder mysteries lately. Really, if I wanted to read a recipe, I’d have bought a cookbook.
So get in your votes for the goner in each bracket down in the comments section and next week we’ll have our final four who can battle it out to see who makes our top two and, ultimately, our top spot for who needs to cool it and go away for a while.
We’ve closed this first round and moved into Death Brackets FINAL FOUR.
crow cake image from listverse
Eric Beetner is the author of Dig Two Graves, Split Decision (Book #3 in the Fight Card series) and co-author with JB Kohl of One Too Many Blows To The Head and Borrowed Trouble. His award-winning short fiction has appeared in Pulp Ink, D*cked, Off The Record, Grimm Tales, Discount Noir, Needle, Murder In The Wind and the upcoming Million Writers Award: best new online voices. For more and links to free stories visit ericbeetner.blogspot.com