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Jessica Fletcher, history's greatest monster
January 29, 2013 12:53 PM   Subscribe

Murder happens a lot less in real life than on television, that's a given, but how much less?

Well, BBC Radio 4's maths and statistics programme More or Less (podcasts, previously) has done the math. It found out that even the country with the highest murder rate in the world, Honduras, has only twothirds the rate of that from sleepy little Cabot cove, home of Jessica Fletcher: 910 murders per million inhabitants versus 1490.

In the UK, things aren't any better. Knifecrime capital London? Only half the murder rate of nice, safe, cozy, fictional Midsomer county.
posted by MartinWisse (96 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Murder, She Promotes
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:55 PM on January 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


Oh God, Midsomer Murders. My wife has begun watching that on Netflix. Assholes. Assholes and hippies as far as the eye can see.
posted by charred husk at 12:59 PM on January 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


Holy crap. I'm less "gosh, how surprising that Murder She Wrote isn't an accurate reflection of crime patterns in Maine" than "I am never going to Honduras, ever!" I wouldn't have thought anywhere shy of a war zone would have a murder rate even in the same ballpark as a weekly murder mystery.
posted by yoink at 12:59 PM on January 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


The answer is obvious: Jessica Fletcher was a devious serial killer who managed to frame tons of innocent people for her crimes.
posted by kmz at 1:00 PM on January 29, 2013 [73 favorites]


Along these same lines, Father Dowling made Pol Pot look like Potsie.
posted by Atom Eyes at 1:03 PM on January 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's a family in-joke that Wire in the Blood's fictional Yorkshire town of Bradfield is easily the most dangerous place in the UK. Serial killings there must be beating cancer, heart disease and car accidents as the leading cause of mortality.
posted by figurant at 1:03 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Then there's Chicago, about 500 murders per year.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:03 PM on January 29, 2013


Jessica Fletcher was a devious serial killer who managed to frame tons of innocent people for her crimes.

That's what Amos Tupper wants you to think.
posted by chambers at 1:04 PM on January 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


While we're on the topic of Murder She Wrote, I would like to share my favorite picture of Angela Lansbury, a screenshot from the Manchurian Candidate.

Angela Lansbury has always been, and will always be, an old lady.
posted by phunniemee at 1:06 PM on January 29, 2013 [11 favorites]


TVTropes "Wild Mass Guessing".
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:06 PM on January 29, 2013


Sunnydale has to top the list, without even counting the undead that were made dead, again.
posted by HuronBob at 1:07 PM on January 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


kmz:
"The answer is obvious: Jessica Fletcher was a devious serial killer who managed to frame tons of innocent people for her crimes."
This is my favorite "the person you're helping is actually causing the problem he's pretending to solve" analogy. A great example was in a Hellblazer comic involving a global treck around the world with the ghost of Francis Dashwood. An episode of Murder She Wrote playing in an Australian bar revealed the truth of the situation.
posted by charred husk at 1:07 PM on January 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


As someone used to "family values" groups in the 'ol USA... the most shocking thing in this article was this:

"Vivienne Pattison is director of Mediawatch UK, a campaign group that fights for "family values" in the media, and against graphic violence. But even she says murder has a role to play.

"I don't think there's anything wrong with the subject being covered on television per se, it's how it's dealt with," she says.

"There is clearly a huge amount of difference between the treatment of murder in say The Killing... or EastEnders...and the Saw franchise - the films of which are little more than gore fests of torture porn.

"The latter I do consider to be more problematic as they remove the humanity of the victims and so the death itself becomes entertainment."

posted by Debaser626 at 1:07 PM on January 29, 2013


You know, I'm not sure about these numbers. Yes, Jessica Fletcher might be history's most charmingly awesome monster, but in the first two seasons of Murder, She Wrote, there were only 5 murders that actually took place in Cabot Cove proper, and at least two of them were people from out of town just passing through.

What I'm saying is that if you're looking to kill 45 minutes on a train ride with some mindless TV, there are worse ways to spend it than watching Angela Lansbury act the shit out of even the most trite mysteries. Also being a retired widow who suddenly gets fame as a best selling mystery writer apparently means you get to travel A LOT!

Yes 5 murders over two years is a large amount for a town of 3500 people. But I think it would be more like 600 per million people if I'm doing the math right. Still a lot obviously. But between the tourists and all the greedy developers, this seems about right to me...dramatic license considered.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:09 PM on January 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Chicago sounds bad, but think about this. Washington, DC topped out at 482 in 1991, and that was a city of less than six hundred thousand. That's 806 murders per million people.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 1:10 PM on January 29, 2013


I always felt that anyone who would see her would logically have a reaction not unlike a Russian General hearing that Stalin is not in a good mood, and he wants "to have a talk - in private."
posted by chambers at 1:12 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh God, Midsomer Murders. My wife has begun watching that on Netflix. Assholes. Assholes and hippies as far as the eye can see.

Well as a genre convention, it makes sense. The victim is often an asshole so that when they're killed, they are plenty of suspects who hated them for being an asshole. Similarly, anyone who can be plausibly be construed as likely to murder is probably something of an asshole themselves.

What's hilarious(?) about Midsomer is that exceedingly rarely is the first victim enough for Barnaby & co. to nab the culprit. It usually takes a 2nd victim (or even more) before they get around to it.
posted by juv3nal at 1:14 PM on January 29, 2013


Sunnydale has to top the list

One of the best things about Buffy was that they hung a lampshade on this trope by explaining that the town was built on a "hellmouth".
posted by Sara C. at 1:14 PM on January 29, 2013 [9 favorites]


I don't think Jessica Fletcher has been personally killing anyone, she's just a Hannibal Lecter level master of psychology who convinces other people to do murders so that she can solve them.
posted by ckape at 1:14 PM on January 29, 2013 [11 favorites]


Now I'm wanting to write some fic about how Cabot Cove was ALSO built on a Hellmouth, which is, if it is something I'm not uniquely qualified to do, is something I do have the skills for.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:17 PM on January 29, 2013 [11 favorites]


I look forward to their follow up, "TV Characters Have Way More Sex Than Me: What's Up with That?"
posted by Navelgazer at 1:19 PM on January 29, 2013 [16 favorites]


What's hilarious(?) about Midsomer is that exceedingly rarely is the first victim enough for Barnaby & co. to nab the culprit. It usually takes a 2nd victim (or even more) before they get around to it.

Yeah, I think of this as a "Inspector Morse syndrome" based on where I first noticed it, but maybe it's a British thing because I seem to think Agatha Christie did it a lot too.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:19 PM on January 29, 2013


Oh God, Midsomer Murders. My wife has begun watching that on Netflix. Assholes. Assholes and hippies as far as the eye can see.

White people, white people as far as the eye can see. ;)

I'd love to see stats on the USA, with how many people on my facebook feed seem to think they are constantly under assault from burgers and rapists and need to carry an arsenal.
posted by usagizero at 1:20 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I remember my mother, a librarian in a small Maine coastal town during the TV series, patiently explaining for the umpteenth time to bewildered and insistent tourists, that there was no such place as Cabot Cove and no such person as Jessica Fletcher.
posted by pentagoet at 1:22 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd love to see stats on the USA ... under assault from burgers

We do have a problem with obesity here in the US, all right.
posted by me & my monkey at 1:22 PM on January 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


juv3nal:
"What's hilarious(?) about Midsomer is that exceedingly rarely is the first victim enough for Barnaby & co. to nab the culprit. It usually takes a 2nd victim (or even more) before they get around to it."
That's why they need so many assholes in the show - Barnaby needs a larger pile of corpses before he can figure anything out. I can picture it now:

The scene - a small town in Midsomer county. There is no movement and corpses are scattered all over the village square. It looks like the apocalypse has come and gone. Mrs.Havish stands alone with Inspector Barnaby.

Barnaby: "Well, it took some doing, but I've finally got you dead to rights, Mrs.Havish!"
posted by charred husk at 1:22 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd love to see stats on the USA ... under assault from burgers

We do have a problem with obesity here in the US, all right.


Damn autocorrect and not enough caffeine. :P
posted by usagizero at 1:23 PM on January 29, 2013


Sunnydale has to top the list

One of the best things about Buffy was that they hung a lampshade on this trope by explaining that the town was built on a "hellmouth".


Well, the class of '99 did have the lowest mortality rate of any graduating class in Sunnydale history.
posted by teleri025 at 1:24 PM on January 29, 2013 [14 favorites]


Jessica Fletcher may have been a serial killer who managed to blame dozens of innocents for her horrific crimes, but consider sweet little Miss Marple..... sweet, thoughtful, kindly old Miss Marple.....
posted by easily confused at 1:25 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can see a Kilgore Trout story here:

It was about a planet that had a master detective so good they had to lock him up and no one was allowed to speak of him, by law. At first, everybody thought he was just the most damndest clever man you'd ever meet. Like he'd just happen to be at the train station when a millionaire banker was killed, and by some crazy luck and skill, would have the perpetrator in irons by sundown. Or he'd be vacationing on a nice beach somewhere, and bodies would just fall from the sky - it turned out to be a skydiver trainer in a love triangle with the pilot's wife. Everywhere he went, death, mystery, and amazing solution. Finally a bunch of scientists figured out his subconscious, so innately skilled at detective work, was always hungry for more mystery, so his subconsciously influenced the murderous desire in those around him. Since his subconscious knew what it did, he could find the 'real' killers easily.

Then it started happening that when people just talked about the guy, people got killed, but there was nobody around to solve it. His subconscious was infectious on a universal level. Finally they had to lock him up on an island and make talking about him illegal, but since the guards had to think about him, they were locked up on an island next door. Anybody found guilty of talking about him gets sent to the island to guard the detective. Due to the detective's abilities and anger about being imprisoned, the island that has the guards is never overpopulated, and vacancies are always opening up.
posted by chambers at 1:33 PM on January 29, 2013 [31 favorites]


The murder capital of the USA is obviously Santa Carla, CA.
posted by benzenedream at 1:34 PM on January 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sunnydale has to top the list

One of the best things about Buffy was that they hung a lampshade on this trope by explaining that the town was built on a "hellmouth".


The Lampshade goes further, of course, with the jokes about how the unusually high "accident" rate kept house prices down, and of course the reveal that there is a reason no one higher up seems to act on the town's shockingly high disappearance rate.

That being said I always wanted to write a bottle episode with almost none of the main cast where we just follow the Sunnydale EMTs around for a night.

Although i think Angel did do somehting like that, but most of the crimes there took place within LA's ...uh Non-Human-American population, so to speak.
posted by The Whelk at 1:34 PM on January 29, 2013 [9 favorites]


Midsomer Murders kills by inducing rapid aging on anyone who sits through all 5 hours of an episode.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 1:35 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


(oh, and if you want to see her looking gorgeous at age 31, try the film "The Court Jester", where she costarred with Danny Kaye.)
posted by easily confused at 1:37 PM on January 29, 2013


Each individual has their death written into their blood the moment they're born. But every system has its irregularities. Sometimes, through nobody's fault in particular, a person...escapes.

Enter Jessica Fletcher, best-selling mystery author—and secretly, Cabot Cove's own god of death. When a soul lingers past its expiration date, it's Jessica's job to manipulate events behind the scenes to engineer its overdue demise.

It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it, especially since the cosmos isn't so inert as one might think. If Jessica delays too long, it might just take matters into its own hands...and with much less subtlety.

I've never actually seen Dead Like Me, so any similarities are coincidental, I swear.
posted by KChasm at 1:39 PM on January 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, how many murders did folk think there really were? I live in a place which is kinda rural like Midsomer, and there has only been four murders since 1945. The last one was 22 years ago. It would take the makers of Midsomer roughly 100 years to film a single season at that rate.

(Also, Angela Lansbury is from rather a famous family. Her grandfather was leader of the Labour Party, her father was an MP, her uncle a well-known historian, and her cousin made Bagpuss and the Clangers.)
posted by Jehan at 1:41 PM on January 29, 2013


phunniemee: naw, she wasn't.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:43 PM on January 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


There actually was a serial killer active in my hometown at some point, and it took an embarrassingly long time (and high body count) before police put two and two together and ultimately caught the guy.

That said, one serial killer active in a somewhat broad local area (across multiple police jurisdictions) for a decade. Killing infrequently enough that it took most of that 10 year period for anyone to notice anything was amiss. We're not talking Midsomer Murders level mayhem, here.
posted by Sara C. at 1:56 PM on January 29, 2013


Angela Lansbury has always been, and will always be, an old lady.

Huh. I always thought she was one hot dish.
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:02 PM on January 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


I've just gorged myself on six seasons of Dexter on Netflix, and I am completely baffled why anyone would choose to live in Miami, a city that has had (to my count) at least 35 serial killers running around over the past half-decade.
posted by Shepherd at 2:03 PM on January 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


It would take the makers of Midsomer roughly 100 years to film a single season at that rate.

Holy shit would I watch an anthology-mystery-procedural that took place in the same small village over the course of a few centuries and took advantage of a shared sense of history and place and families.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:05 PM on January 29, 2013 [9 favorites]




Fun Angela Lansbury fact: She plays Elizabeth Taylor's snotty older sister in National Velvet.
posted by Sara C. at 2:06 PM on January 29, 2013


That said, one serial killer active in a somewhat broad local area (across multiple police jurisdictions) for a decade. Killing infrequently enough that it took most of that 10 year period for anyone to notice anything was amiss. We're not talking Midsomer Murders level mayhem, here.
I remember reading some years ago (and wish I could find it again) a short discussion by two criminologists on potential serial killer numbers. They looked at the unsolved "missing" person cases, and figured that a given percent of them were likely to be murder victims. They then stretched those potential murders out over the years and rough location, and came to the conclusion that there could be something like 30-50 undetected serial killers in the US at any one time. Amazing stuff.
posted by Jehan at 2:08 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


> "Angela Lansbury has always been, and will always be, an old lady."

You haven't seen Gaslight, The Picture of Dorian Gray, or The Court Jester, I take it.
posted by kyrademon at 2:12 PM on January 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: Making Pol Pot look like Potsie.
posted by jonp72 at 2:13 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


naw, she wasn't.

You haven't seen Gaslight, The Picture of Dorian Gray, or The Court Jester, I take it.


Sure, sure. That was before she made that deal with the devil. She gets to live forever, but she will always be 70 years old. (This transaction was made easier due to her proximity to the aforementioned hellmouth. It all makes sense.)
posted by phunniemee at 2:15 PM on January 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Well, how many murders did folk think there really were?
Jehan

In the US there is this sense among a segment of the population that society is absolutely besieged by crime, despite crime rates dropping steadily for the last 2 decades. As usagizero says, you'll find a lot of pro-gun people, besides the usual "we must be able to resist the government's tyranny!" line, utterly certain that there are hordes of murderers and muggers roaming the streets that won't follow any gun laws and so we also need weapons to protect our families. And you hear this line of thinking from people who live nowhere near high-crime areas.
posted by Sangermaine at 2:18 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Holy shit would I watch an anthology-mystery-procedural that took place in the same small village over the course of a few centuries and took advantage of a shared sense of history and place and families.

The local Vicar solves the odd murder from his drawing room in the 20's on a lark, his great-niece is the first female constable in the 1990s while a another relative becomes a murderer in the 2020s. This is sounding great.
posted by shothotbot at 2:21 PM on January 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


Jehan, I found this opinion piece on undetected serial killers.
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 2:25 PM on January 29, 2013


I've just gorged myself on six seasons of Dexter on Netflix, and I am completely baffled why anyone would choose to live in Miami, a city that has had (to my count) at least 35 serial killers running around over the past half-decade.

Because Mike Weston and Horatio Caine keep the rest of the city crime-free.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 2:25 PM on January 29, 2013


That was before she made that deal with the devil.
The negotiations were captured on film. Eternity and a pile of chips.
posted by smidgen at 2:31 PM on January 29, 2013


Finally they had to lock him up on an island and make talking about him illegal, but since the guards had to think about him, they were locked up on an island next door. Anybody found guilty of talking about him gets sent to the island to guard the detective.

Item #: SCP-████

Object Class: Euclid

Special Containment Procedures:
SCP-████ is classified as an infohazard. The information in this document is only to be made available to personnel directly involved in the containment of SCP-████.
SCP-████ is to be contained within a standard high security humanoid SCP containment cell in the infohazard section of Site ██. [...]
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 2:33 PM on January 29, 2013 [6 favorites]




The local Vicar solves the odd murder from his drawing room in the 20's on a lark, his great-niece is the first female constable in the 1990s while a another relative becomes a murderer in the 2020s. This is sounding great.

...and in 2065, the vicar is found murdered! By, as it turns out, another instance of the vicar who had been sent out to buy a present for Mrs. Vicar and saw the first instance generating multiple zimbo versions of backdated versions of himself, partially sex-modified, to masturbate with. As punishment, the local constable bot (with personality imprints of all known previous constables) extracts memories of the murder from the first instance and forcibly reintegrates them into the second instance's mindstate before sending being mulched and uploaded into a prisonspace while a backup of the original mindstate is therapied in silico and then reinstantiated.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:39 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


The local Vicar solves the odd murder from his drawing room in the 20's on a lark, his great-niece is the first female constable in the 1990s while a another relative becomes a murderer in the 2020s. This is sounding great.

Cloud Atlas: CSI
posted by ennui.bz at 2:50 PM on January 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


I look forward to their follow up, "TV Characters Have Way More Sex Than Me: What's Up with That?"

"Holy balls, Costanza."
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:52 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jehan, I found this opinion piece on undetected serial killers.
Thanks. At least I know I wasn't imagining it! It's most likely too late to be the piece I read, but the numbers sound pretty similar.

Only a few years ago a hidden body was found almost in the center of Manchester. It had been wrapped in a carpet and jammed in a gap between two buildings, lying undisturbed for maybe 30 years or more. I'm not one to oversay how much crime there is or how threatened we should feel, but I find it so amazing that any murder—nevermind the whole "career" of a serial killer—can just be utterly overlooked.
posted by Jehan at 2:55 PM on January 29, 2013


This many posts, and no one's mentioned that this idea was a continual subplot of the recent BBC Sherlock Holmes series? Right from the first episode, at least one police officer accuses him of knowing too much; he must be the real killer! As his seemingly impossible streak of baffling solutions mounts up, his detractors only become more sure. It continues to play into the plot, throughout the season.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:59 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that happens in one of the Data Plays Sherlock On The Holodeck episodes of Star Trek: TNG.
posted by Sara C. at 3:04 PM on January 29, 2013


I'm not one to oversay how much crime there is...

Isn't Manchester a relatively high crime area of the UK, though?

Then again, I formed that assumption based on the British crime show Cracker, as well as that one series of Prime Suspect where Tennyson gets sent there for some reason (Demoted? serial killer working there as well as London?).

So it's possible that Manchester is the UK equivalent of rural Maine, I suppose.
posted by Sara C. at 3:08 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I always figured that Manchester's violence in the media was just part of the It's-Grim-Up-North trope.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:12 PM on January 29, 2013


10 bodies and -- as the news always put it -- a head in a bucket. Yet the police ignored all kinds of reports, and the neighborhood blamed the rancid smells on (so, so, so not kidding) the sausage shop on the corner. Sometimes murders just get overlooked...all the more so when the victims don't meet the Fox News criteria for attention.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 3:19 PM on January 29, 2013


Isn't Manchester a relatively high crime area of the UK, though?
Yes, it has higher crime than other places in England, but it has been getting better. At its worse gun crime was quite bad, and seven people were killed in a year.
posted by Jehan at 3:20 PM on January 29, 2013


> "Right from the first episode, at least one police officer accuses him of knowing too much; he must be the real killer!"

Personally, I always enjoy it when this happens and it eventually turns out that the police are totally correct. A rare twist, but a very pleasing one.
posted by kyrademon at 3:20 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


The whole reason for the fake psychic bit in Psych is to avoid the problem that Sherlock was having. Apparently people get suspicious if you solve cases by observation and deduction, but supernatural powers are completely acceptable.
posted by ckape at 3:21 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


At its worse gun crime was quite bad, and seven people were killed in a year.

Wow.

I was going to surmise that 30 years ago, at the height of urban blight, there were just too many murders and missing persons to keep track of and somebody slipped through the cracks.

Seven murders, at the city's worst point?

That actually does put Manchester about on par with rural Maine.
posted by Sara C. at 3:22 PM on January 29, 2013


Seven murders, at the city's worst point?

That actually does put Manchester about on par with rural Maine.


Or as it is called in Chicago: a weekend.
posted by srboisvert at 3:25 PM on January 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't think Jessica Fletcher has been personally killing anyone, she's just a Hannibal Lector level master of psychology who convinces other people to do murders so that she can solve them.

This is the plot of the final Poirot novel. The "killer" arranges things so that others will kill for him through masterful, nearly undetectable manipulation. In a fun twist, Poirot uses Wesley's gambit from the Princess Bride to off the murderer, who is technically not guilty of any crime: he invites the man over for tea and poisons both their cups.

In Detective Conan, an anime series, a teenager shrunk down to the size of a small child due to an experimental poison, uses a needle gun embedded in his watch to repeatedly drug his adult guardian, a sleazy detective named Kogoru, and put him to sleep. Then Conan pretends to speak through Kogoru, much like a ventriloquist. The sleazy detective, who has solved I think 0 cases of the several hundred episodes and movies, becomes famously renowned as Sleeping Kogoru.

In the latter years, the cast of supporting characters regularly joke about and/or are suspicious about how often Kogoru happens to show up whenever someone dies.

Right from the first episode, at least one police officer accuses him of knowing too much; he must be the real killer!

There is an episode of... Law and Order, I believe, wherein a serial murderer pretends to be a psychic receiving visions related to the murders he has committed. The detectives, for perhaps the first and only time in television history, immediately discount the possibility of actual psychic powers and immediately realize that he must be the murderer, since he knew things only the murderer could know.
posted by jsturgill at 3:26 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


"People get it wildly wrong...It's not surprising really. There is so much murder on television, in books, in films, and in the news, that people fear it more than they should."

jives a little awkwardly with this strange choice for closing the article:

"We all live in this terrifying world. It's quite nice to feel afraid vicariously and then have it all tied up neatly at the end. It's a bit like inoculation."

posted by herbplarfegan at 3:28 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Apparently people get suspicious if you solve cases by observation and deduction, but supernatural powers are completely acceptable.

I hate that this is what makes Psych an ideally American mystery program for the early 21st century but here we are.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:28 PM on January 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


I remember my mother, a librarian in a small Maine coastal town during the TV series, patiently explaining for the umpteenth time to bewildered and insistent tourists, that there was no such place as Cabot Cove and no such person as Jessica Fletcher.

Interestingly, for Castle, which is essentially a sexed-up version of Murder, She Wrote, they've actually *been* publishing the books the lead character supposedly writes. So people who watch that show and go to the library looking for Richard Castle's books may actually find them.

I read the first one and it was ... not as bad as some other books I've read in the genre.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:28 PM on January 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Rural Maine has lots of murders because agents of the Crimson King are looking for the Rose, which is also The Tower and is guarded by Maine's most famous resident.

Who's also a writer. Hmmm... I sense crossover.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 3:40 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Seven murders, at the city's worst point?
No, seven gun murders. There may have been other murders in the same year without guns. But Manchester was renowned at the time for its gun violence, taking the name "Gunchester".
posted by Jehan at 3:46 PM on January 29, 2013


There is an episode of... Law and Order, I believe, wherein a serial murderer pretends to be a psychic receiving visions related to the murders he has committed. The detectives, for perhaps the first and only time in television history, immediately discount the possibility of actual psychic powers and immediately realize that he must be the murderer, since he knew things only the murderer could know.

I wouldn't be surprised if that was Law & Order, because they never use psychics or any supernatural elements. It's probably one of the more realistic crime shows.
posted by orange swan at 3:46 PM on January 29, 2013


Interestingly, for Castle, which is essentially a sexed-up version of Murder, She Wrote, they've actually *been* publishing the books the lead character supposedly writes.

They did a weird version of this for "Jessica Fletcher" too -- except for those the character of Jessica Fletcher is listed as co-author -- or sometimes only listed author -- for books that are about the mystery solving of the real Jessica Fletcher. (I've never read them.)

As far as I know, they never did what they currently do for Castle for the 42 novels that were mentioned by title as written by J.B. Fletcher during the 12 seasons of the show.

Come to think of it, since it's canon that she wasn't a published author in the pilot, the fact that Jessica Fletcher managed to put out at least 3.5 books a year is at least as suspicious as all the murders she or her family were involved in, though I suppose it might just be an exteme case of "write what you know."

Which, again, might actually be another point for the serial killer theory.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:59 PM on January 29, 2013


What I mean above is that I wouldn't go on any vacations near James Patterson.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:00 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm less "gosh, how surprising that Murder She Wrote isn't an accurate reflection of crime patterns in Maine" than "I am never going to Honduras, ever!" I wouldn't have thought anywhere shy of a war zone would have a murder rate even in the same ballpark as a weekly murder mystery.

Eh, I was in Honduras a few months ago. Lovely country, lovely people. I only spent a few days there, though, so I can't really comment with much knowledge about how dangerous it is. El Salvador is number two in homicides, and I spent a couple of weeks there and it was great. Never once felt unsafe, even in San Salvador. It really depends on where you are and what you're doing. If you're running drugs in San Salvador, you're gonna have a bad time. But if you're just shopping for some locally made stuff at a market on the Ruta de Flores, it's as homey as any sleepy village in upstate maine.
posted by empath at 4:01 PM on January 29, 2013


They did a weird version of this for "Jessica Fletcher" too -- except for those the character of Jessica Fletcher is listed as co-author -- or sometimes only listed author -- for books that are about the mystery solving of the real Jessica Fletcher. (I've never read them.)

There's also the Temperance Brennan situation. Kathy Reichs, a real-life Forensic Anthropologist, writes books about a fictional Forensic Anthropologist named Temperance Brennan. In the TV show Bones, which is loosely based on those books, Temperance Brennan is a Forensic Anthropologist who, along with her co-worker Angela, happens to write books about a fictional Forensic Anthropologist named Kathy Reichs. There are now books based on the TV show, which are written by Max Allen Collins, and they are about Temperance Brennan (who writes books, etc.) But to my knowledge, they are not (yet) publishing books purported to be *by* Temperance Brennan, featuring her character Kathy Reichs.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:13 PM on January 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


The Killing Fields of Cabot Cove
posted by rodii at 4:25 PM on January 29, 2013


Forget the details, but there's an episode of Murder, She Wrote where Jessica is supposed to be on the stand defending a friend/relative, but gets treated as a hostile witness at the last minute. Her character is called into question over all her murdering nephews, never-convicted cousins and conveniently-dead publishers. Haven't seen it in years, but having the snarky stuff that you've been muttering at the telly forever gleefully lampshaded is quite amusing.

Essentially it's canon that she might be behind any number of murders, but probably doesn't get her hands dirty. Well, my canon anyway. Who knows what goes on during the ad breaks?
posted by comealongpole at 4:39 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


comealongpole, that's pretty impressive.

I spent four years working on a certain Crime Drama series, and I always wished they would do an episode wherein either of the two main detectives was fingered as a suspect. Especially the female detective who A) never got anything fun to do, and B) fit the typical demographic data of the people who end up being the killer in the third act.

(Another fun fact: I don't know if it's true on every series, but on ours I realized after a couple years that if there was an older, single, childless, generally desexualized and/or kinda invisible woman in the group of supporting guest characters, she was ALWAYS the killer. Yet another reason I kept on hoping that our single, childless, generally desexualized and kinda invisible female detective would eventually turn out to be a psychotic murderer.)
posted by Sara C. at 4:43 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


single, childless, generally desexualized and kinda invisible female detective

I was trying to guess which show this might have been but ended up depressed how many options this description fit.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 5:10 PM on January 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Female detectives or detective-a-likes NEVER have kids. Male ones can kinda have them, but they have to be distant from them or rarely see them or whatever.
posted by The Whelk at 5:23 PM on January 29, 2013


Kids are boring and get in the way of the action. I like Cracker's strained relationship with his kid though.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:56 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Female detectives or detective-a-likes NEVER have kids. Male ones can kinda have them, but they have to be distant from them or rarely see them or whatever.

I confess, I had to think about it a bunch, but I got this.
posted by juv3nal at 6:18 PM on January 29, 2013


Charlemagne, the best part of that is that Cracker actually has two kids.
posted by Sara C. at 6:20 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of the many good things about Prime Suspect 1 is Tennison (Hellen Mirren's) strained relationship with young women, where she fights internally her own desire to foster and her drive to act as a Detective, and a whole lot of drinking in between.
posted by nickggully at 7:15 PM on January 29, 2013


Because Mike Weston and Horatio Caine keep the rest of the city crime-free.

pulls off sunglasses

YEEEAAAHHH!!!!!
posted by jonp72 at 7:25 PM on January 29, 2013


Because Mike Weston and Horatio Caine keep the rest of the city crime-free.

Seriously, though, how many amusingly stupid crime kingpins could there possibly be?
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:42 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Angela Lansbury has always been, and will always be, an old lady.

Utterly wrong.
posted by mhoye at 9:28 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Whenever I watched an episode of Murder She Wrote, I always pretended that Mrs. Fletcher was an especially clever serial killer who pinned her various crimes on others. The show was much more interesting when watched from this perspective.
posted by driley at 1:38 PM on January 30, 2013


a... murderer pretends to be a psychic receiving visions related to the murders he has committed. The detectives... realize that he must be the murderer, since he knew things only the murderer could know.


This is the basic plot of Man On A Swing, a pretty good 1974 movie with Cliff Robertson and Joel Grey. It was based on a real case (which was never solved).
posted by CCBC at 1:43 PM on January 30, 2013


empath: But if you're just shopping for some locally made stuff at a market on the Ruta de Flores, it's as homey as any sleepy village in upstate maine.
... albeit one with the highest murder rate in the world.

/"Eternal rest" = sleepy, right?

//"Feels safe" != "safe". Those statistics aren't based on a tiny, obviously unsafe neighborhood walled off from everywhere else, with signs telling the bullets to stop at the borders.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:33 PM on January 30, 2013


jsturgill: In a fun twist, Poirot uses Wesley's gambit from the Princess Bride to off the murderer, who is technically not guilty of any crime: he invites the man over for tea and poisons both their cups.
OMG... did... did you just use "gambit" correctly in a sentence?
posted by IAmBroom at 2:34 PM on January 30, 2013


//"Feels safe" != "safe". Those statistics aren't based on a tiny, obviously unsafe neighborhood walled off from everywhere else, with signs telling the bullets to stop at the borders.

But they are. The vast majority are both gang related and in the capital. You don't really have much to worry about as a regular person walking around in most places.
posted by empath at 4:31 PM on January 30, 2013


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