Thursday, May 3, 2012

Research 101: The art of murder

You have to admit ‘les poules dans un photo’ are cute.

‘I need another mystery novel by Xmas.’

This is a matter of opinion, yet it is one of my goals, and I might even succeed. That being said, one wonders what the next Maintenon mystery book will be. On the spur of the moment, I started Googling things like ‘sensational crimes Paris 1926’ and such ilk.

At the present time I don’t have a particular plot in mind, although dark themes will naturally arise. It is murder after all. I still don’t have a specific crime from the headlines or anything like that.

Not too many sensational crimes came up on the first page of links. For that I would need to browse the ‘Paris 1926 newspapers,’ or whatever. Yet some interesting things did come up. Here are the first few links I followed up in no real order:

Paris Jazz Age: (New generation explodes in Paris (1920s.)

Look at the clothes, look at the interiors. Look at the shoes. Look at the hats, and the hairstyles. All kinds of encyclopedic information is available to us nowadays. We have all these resources. Reading this stuff is more fun than wrestling with plot points, which ultimately resolve themselves in some 5:00 a.m. moment of cynicism and decisiveness. Think of the bars, the vehicles. Plenty of background materials. We could squeeze in some Paris mobsters, with guys hanging off of running boards with machine-pistols blazing and hot blonde molls passed out in the back seat. I need a good chase scene…

Check this one out:

Paris in 1926 had an art scene, a scene that affluent characters might be familiar with and interact with.

I don’t have a plot for my story yet. Certain things suggest themselves: art, jazz, American expats, lots of heroin, opium-eating, living the high life, and of course some kind of homicide to stir the reader’s more visceral instincts.

Considering our well-known penchant for hetero-eroticism, what sort of women will be in the story? And how will they behave? Should they be scantily-clad?

So my last book was light-hearted, this one, another mystery in some putative series, should be dark.

How to work in the Algerians, smugglers, white-slavers and a lot of drug references as well as full frontal nudity and some social commentary relevant to the 21st century remains to be seen.

See ‘Surrealism and the art of crime.’

That was the one that set me to thinking. And you have to admit, that guy has one hell of a good title.

(Paris Match.)

There must be a lot more stuff out there. In any case, some kind of inspiration will surely strike.

The first Inspector Maintenon story was ‘The Handbag’s Tale,’ available here. This led to ‘Redemption: an Inspector Gilles Maintenon mystery,’ available here and elsewhere.

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