Death Brackets: The Clichés of Crime, The Championship!

Death Brackets BannerAt long last, we have reached the finals. After some very tight races and some runaway landslides, we have the two most hated plot devices in crime fiction. Now it’s time to vote for the one you most want to see go away. Then we write an open letter to authors and ask them politely to put an end to the cliché.

So who’s it gonna be?

Albert Fish, notorious serial killer and cannibalIn our last round we had a nail biter and a crushing defeat. In the category of main characters, Serial Killers vs. Old School Mafia types went down to the wire. From the start, The Mob found very few friends around here, but at the eleventh hour those pesky Serial Killers slashed their way into the victory circle. Seems a slim margin of readers are more tired of spree killers than of pinstripe suits and severed horse heads.

In the category of plot devices the answer was clear. Feel free to write about Sherlock Holmes all you want (yay, that means we don’t have to tell Steve Hockensmith to stop writing his fantastic Holmes on the Range series!) but whatever you do, don’t set out to write yet another chef-based mystery. Readers are getting heartburn over the culinary-themed murder tales. If you include a recipe in the back of the book, that only makes things worse.

But that’s only someone else’s opinion! It’s time to let yours be heard. There are surely many defenders of the culinary murder mystery. Time to put your vote where your mouth is.

The final showdown is set: Serial Killers vs. Culinary Mysteries.

Bloody apronSo, which cliché gets sent to that big kitchen in the sky?

Is it time to do away with the indiscriminate killers and maybe the cops/FBI agents/investigator with a dark past who hunt them?

Or is it time to close down the kitchen, cork the wine, put away the cheese and get back to some old fashioned bullets and broads crime stories?

Cast your vote for who has to go below and we’ll announce the…er…“winner” next week.

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

Read all Eric Beetner’s posts for Criminal Element.


  1. Kieran

    On behalf of culinary professionals and in the sacred name of Auguste Escoffier, please tell these writers to stop. It’s not cute or clever. It’s inane and cheap. The exception, of course, being Bourdain’s “Nikki the saute bitch” from his shoot ’em up novel THE BOBBY GOLD STORIES.

  2. Carmen Pinzon

    I guess I can stomach another culinary mystery as long as the serial killers just go away!

  3. RKLewis

    Naw, man… serial killers are like zombies. They never go out of style. Yeah, they get old… but there’s always something to do new. I mean… Vincent Price served a guy’s dogs to their owner. That was awesome, sure. But ever since then, it’s been all about the cuisinart, lol.

    Hannibal Lector definitely was a cross over, imo.

    Give me a good psychopathic serial killer anytime! Cooking a while chicken is like a serial killer murder anyway, lol. Who needs it???


  4. Betty Breier

    Maybe a few serial killers could eliminate all those cooks? Keep the serial killers, kill the cooks!

  5. Laura K. Curtis

    Too many cooks spoil the…genre!

  6. Debbie Shaffer

    Cooks! I just can’t stomach them. (Sorry . . . ) I quit reading them years ago because they were too light and fluffy. No substance, no real problems. Like eating rice cakes and marshmallows. They’re not filling and they don’t taste good. Pleh!

  7. Terrie Farley Moran

    With apologies to Shakespeare: First thing we do, let’s kill all the serial killers.

  8. Deborah Lacy

    I’m with Terrie – down with serial killers. Find another way to raise the stakes.

  9. Elizabeth A White

    Serial killers are a pillar of the genre. Take those away and the whole shooting match may collapse! 😛

    So stick a fork in those culinary murder mysteries, they’re done.

  10. Juri Nummelin

    Can I vote for both of them to go away? If not, then culinary mysteries. I think there’s something worthwhile to be done with serial killers.

  11. Sally

    Please no more books with cute titles and recipes that are not used. Keep the serial killers alive!

  12. Christine A.

    Get rid of the serial killers (though I do adore them). I LOVE reading about culinary mysteries. Cleo Coyle, Diane Mott Davidson, Joanna Carl, JB Stanley, Joanne Fluke, Miranda Bliss, Julie Hyzy, Louisa Edwards, Sarah Zettel and GA McKevett.

  13. mantelli

    Down with serial killers! Put writers in a killing diet and make them stop with just one death per book!

  14. CarolK

    Sorry, my appetite needs both…perhaps a blend – culinary serial killer roams the countryside.

  15. Alyson Widen

    I like culinary mysteries and the recipes for food and mayhem that go with them. Serial killers on the other hand tend to be more exciting and gripping.

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