Would a crime writer make a good criminal?

If a crime writer turned to, well, crime, would he or she be any good at it?

There are plenty of fictional accounts in which a famous author executes a plot so devious that only a writer or someone with a deranged mind...errr, that is, only a writer could have thought of it. More often than not, some surprise unravels the plan, but the assumption is always that the writer could have got away with it if not for the unfortunate accident.

I can't off-hand think of any real life examples. The best I can manage is that Conan Doyle did at one point try his hand as an amateur detective in an attempt to clear a man he felt wrongly accused, and there are the much made of missing days of Christie.

But neither of these were committing a crime (Christie was probably having a good weep somewhere).

I confess I've considered how I'd go about a number of different crimes, the obvious and most interesting one of course being murder. I'll save my murder plan for another day and another blog (or unless I need to use it, whichever comes first...) and stick to the point that all my mentally filed criminal plans are rather tricky, just as you'd expect. Which is rather unfortunate, really, because the most successful murders are simple, direct, and scary. Drive by shootings, common beatings, a shooting in the woods and bury the body; it's all so dreary, uninteresting, and effective. The simple methods work because there are fewer "moving parts" to go wrong. Tricky = Likely To Fail.

The sad probable truth is, a successful crime depends at least as much on steady nerve and the execution as it does on the quality of the plan, and the average writer would probably do a poor job on execution. Staring at a screen all day, typing, and daydreaming, are not good practise for the daring and devious acts a writer's plan would demand.

Of course, there is the final, ominous possibility. Perhaps crime writers are so good at crime that not a single one of the numerous writer-criminals has ever been caught. Agents and editors should keep that in mind the next time they annoy one.


Dennis said...

Again with the "FUN" label.

Gary Corby said...

I can't wait to see what you say when you get to the anal impalement post.