The Mystery, Crime, and Thriller Group discussion

General Chat > Civil Justice versus Resolution?

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message 1: by Almeta (last edited Feb 05, 2011 01:04PM) (new)

Almeta (menfrommarrs) | 182 comments I just finished Her Death of Cold: A Father Dowling Mystery by Ralph McInerny. (Chalk up Illinois for 50 states challenge!)

To me, there was a noticeable, change in writing style in a couple of places. It was as if a light story was being told and then suddenly a philosophical point that had crystallized in the author’s mind a long time ago was pulled out of the drawer and “Insert Here” was written on the manuscript.

Oddly enough one of these points made the book worth the preponderance, and an argument for why a Catholic priest makes a good detective. “Apprehension? Punishment? That was not the essential thing. Far more important was the spiritual condition of the one who had (view spoiler)” (committed a crime). In other words, the criminal must be found and be repentant and absolved…to save the soul. Secular justice is not a priest’s goal.

So here is my question. Do you require that criminals be apprehended and punished in your mystery’s resolution?

message 2: by Paul (new)

Paul  Perry (pezski) | 232 comments good post.

i'd say that, for me, it depends on the story; sometimes the criminal should fact the law, sometimes die at the hands of the detective or the victims, sometimes be made to feel repentance - and sometimes to get away. the circumstances and mood of the book should be allowed to determine that.

message 3: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Cotterill (rachelcotterill) What Paul said. It'd be pretty boring if every book ended with a successful court case...

message 4: by Gatorman (new)

Gatorman | 7679 comments I do not require that in the books I read, although there may be times when apprehension and punishment would make the story better.

message 5: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 35449 comments It is more satisfying if there is apprehension. I don't demand to know about the punishment. If the detective builds a good case, the prosecutor (unless he is really inept) should be able to pnuish the guilty.

If there is not apprehension or death - it does not lead to a very satisfying death. Possibly unless there is a follow-up work leading to death/apprehension.

I guess I am kind of moral about my mystery readings. After all, we cannot always get that in life. That is one of the purposes of reading about it in books - to achieve the elusive nirvana that we face in reality.

message 6: by Scott (new)

Scott Nicholson (scottnicholson) | 56 comments I tend more toward realism and the darker books that explore our often-failed morality, like Jim Thompson, Dennis Lehane, James M. Cain, and thus I am just as "satisfied" when the bad guy gets away with it, as long as there was some higher purpose to the battle.

That's not to reward or celebrate depravity, but I see it has a lot of teaching value, whereas the generic happy ending with the bows tied does little besides satisfy what Jan acknowledges is an escapist fantasy.

Scott Nicholson

message 7: by Almeta (last edited Feb 14, 2011 04:06AM) (new)

Almeta (menfrommarrs) | 182 comments We seem satisfied with the outcome of Tell No One (view spoiler) and Murder on the Orient Express (view spoiler) Yet we would not rest if Dr. Alex Cross James Patterson or Lincoln Rhyme Jeffery Deaver did not get "his man".

Our judgements are interesting. Where does one draw the line?

message 8: by Donna, Co-Moderator (new)

Donna | 2178 comments Mod
I don’t require apprehension and punishment in every mystery I read but I do like some kind of resolution even if it is that the bad guy gets away so the good guy can chase him again in the next book.

I do think, however, that certain types of mysteries handle certain types of endings better. The all the loose ends tied up and the bad guy punished ending seems, to me, to fit better with a cozy while endings with loose ends work better with the more realistic and darker mysteries and police procedurals.

message 9: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) I think that resolution is the key is frustrating to read a mystery and then find out that the "who-dunnit" is unanswered. Apprehension and punishment are secondary as far as I'm concerned, although I do agree with Donna that apprehension is important in the cozy as opposed to the modern police procedural.
The public has been obsessed with Jack the Ripper for over 100 years,and with the Black Dahlia case, possibly because we never are to discover "who-dunnit". We are a curious breed....we need to know the answer.

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