1 – Here a MonsterWe are fascinated by monsters. Everyone is. I know my family is.
My wife, Olga, cannot get enough of Criminal Minds, a series in which a serial killer is exposed and caught or killed in every episode. By the time this series ends, there won’t be a serial killer left in the western hemisphere.
As an aside, let me emphasize that I hate TV programs and movies about serial killers. For, invariably, the monsters are the stars.
On the other hand, some people opt for zombies, or vampires, or unfriendly aliens.
My monsters – the ones that captivate me – are real people. As real as today’s headlines. As real as my fellow Canadians. As real as my neighbours.
A few years back, I watched America’s Most Wanted religiously. It was (I don’t see it in the TV guide anymore, so I say “was”) about real fugitives from American justice, about criminals who had committed murder and other heinous crimes. Every night – every single night – when I went to bed, I double-barred the door. Because some of those fugitives had a propensity to turn up in Canada.
You’d think, my living in the bush, three hours from the nearest city, and that city one that most Canadians have never heard of – you’d think I was overreacting.
You’d be dead wrong. I didn’t want to be dead wrong. Not even dead right. So I barred the door.
Right now, right this minute, there are fugitives from justice travelling by our house, or about to pass our house, on the highway, which is just over a klick away. Highway 11 usually carries about half of Canada’s cross-country traffic. In winter, that figure approaches 100 per cent, when winter conditions make travel on Highway 17, the only other cross-country highway, treacherous, and sometimes impossible. Highway 17 has several long hills which can become toboggan runs, particularly when storms barrel in from Lake Superior.
Some of these fugitives are apprehended when police stop their vehicles for sundry infractions. Some of them flee into the bush. The lucky ones stagger out again after a few hours of fighting off flies or hypothermia.
My primary motivation for writing my first mystery novel, was to open the eyes of my compatriots to the fascinating history and geography of this region, and to introduce them to fascinating local characters. The history and the geography are authentic. The characters are fictional, but stand anywhere in one of our little communities and throw a rock, and you will hit one.
Careful. She will like as not toss it back.
A secondary motivation, which is only now becoming clear to me as I near completion of my second novel, is a fascination with the evil being committed daily in our very pleasant, super-friendly, strongly law-abiding communities.
There are monsters among us.
And some of them are neighbours.
[Concluded in Chapter 2]