<i>Shark Island</i>: Excerpt Shark Island: Excerpt Chris Jameson A shark attack survivor believes she has already lived through her worst nightmare—she's dead wrong. <i>The Breaking of Liam Glass</i>: Excerpt The Breaking of Liam Glass: Excerpt Charles Harris A darkly satirical look at the deep splits in modern communities. <i>Twelve Days</i>: Excerpt Twelve Days: Excerpt Steven Barnes A paranormal thriller about a family who struggles against a plot to unleash global genocide. Review: <i>Lowcountry Bonfire</i> by Susan M. Boyer Review: Lowcountry Bonfire by Susan M. Boyer John Valeri Read John Valeri's review!
From The Blog
June 26, 2017
Liz Talbot: The Benefits of Writing Your Avatar
Susan M. Boyer
June 23, 2017
Thieves Steal GPS Devices that Lead to Their Arrest
Teddy Pierson
June 22, 2017
Q&A with J. Leon Pridgen II, Author of Unit 416
Crime HQ and J. Leon Pridgen II
June 16, 2017
Waiting for Nuggets Leads to 911 Call
Teddy Pierson
June 15, 2017
Adventures in Research, Part II: Storm Rising
Douglas Schofield
Showing posts by: Dennis Palumbo click to see Dennis Palumbo's profile
Sat
Jun 29 2013 1:00pm

The “Mean Streets” of Pittsburgh

Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher in the recent movie shot in PittsburghWhat do the recent films Unstoppable, The Dark Knight Rises, and Jack Reacher have in common? They were all primarily shot in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and environs. Why? Probably because of its undoubted cinematic appeal. Pittsburgh has a sprawling network of ethnic neighborhoods, steep hills and rolling streets, venerable buildings and parks, and the famous Three Rivers. Not to mention some handsome tax breaks provided by the state for today’s filmmakers.

These same vivid, colorful traits (minus the tax breaks) hold true for a spate of recent novels, particularly mysteries and thrillers, set in the Steel City. Authors such as Kathleen George, Thomas Lipinksi, and K.C. Constantine have made good use of Western Pennsylvania’s unique flavors and tints, and of the cluster of small, industrially-depleted towns that surround the urban core.

[The core of the 'Burgh exerts its own magnetism...]

Tue
Apr 30 2013 9:30am

“Psycho” Killers Are People Too

From Edward Hyde to Hannibal Lecter, to the serial killer in practically every James Patterson novel, what would the world of mystery thrillers be without the psychopathic, criminally disturbed villain?  It’s practically a sub-genre in itself.

Yet, as a therapist as well as a mystery writer, I can’t tell you how often I’ve read thrillers in which the author’s depiction of a “psycho” killer is pure boilerplate: unconvincing, unmotivated, without psychological depth or realism. But why is this? Especially when the writer’s other characters seem much more rounded, realistic, subject to the usual panoply of feelings and motives?   

I think it’s because some crime writers see their monstrous, unstoppable killer as being “out there” somewhere, beyond the realm of normal human behavior. A caricature of evil out of a child’s nightmare. Or, even worse, they often conjure a conveniently “crazy” killer who commits the crime merely because he’s crazy. Merely to horrify the reader. Merely as an excuse for gratuitous and graphic depictions of unspeakable acts. Merely as a bad guy heinous enough to have us rooting for the hero to finally stop him. In other words, the boogie-man.

Not that this is always the case. In Michael Connelly’s The Poet, serial child molester and murderer William Gladden is terrifyingly real because, in many ways, he seems so ordinary, so matter-of-fact. In Patricia Highsmith’s novels about Ripley, her antihero is so chillingly clear-headed that his atavism seems purely natural. And in Robert Bloch’s Psycho, Norman Bates is the veritable Poster Child for the dangers inherent in severe mother-son enmeshment. Though, on the surface, he seems like such a nice, thoughtful young man…   

[The serial killer next door...]