Thursday 21 August 2014

On second thoughts ...

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about a real-life murder that happened in my own backyard. And I beat myself up about it, believing I had missed a good opportunity to write a true crime book and reveal a horrendous crime to the world.

Today I'm happy to report that I've changed my mind.

After finishing Virginia Peters' book HavYou Seen Simone? about a murdered German backpacker in Lismore (pictured, above), I am left with an empty space, in my head and my heart. And I've passed the book on to my Mum. She's welcome to it.

It's not that I didn't like the book. It was well written although the editing was a tad dodgy and it took me a while to settle in. Peters wrote a first-person account which is unusual for this genre, so I had to get used to the fact that it was as much about the author, Peters, as it was about the poor dead backpacker, Strobel. Eventually I did get used to that but what I will never get used to are all the question marks it left dangling, like a hangman's noose, at the end.

Who the hell dunnit?!

This is true crime and worst kind of true crime—one that's unsolved. There are no neat endings here, no final reveal over glasses of sherry in a room full of jittery, well-dressed suspects. Just a deep, long wondering that has left me feeling deeply frustrated.

It's not Peters' fault. It's the nature of the crime. The police have their suspicions, so, too, Peters, although she stops short of saying whodunnit (not that it's stopped her from being sued for defamation the poor thing). But that's not really my issue because, quite frankly, she doesn't know. Not for sure. Neither do the police who investigated or the families who are involved.

And it haunts them all.

Simone Strobel's murder is an enigma that, for now, is unsolved. May never be solved. Might always be left dangling, hanging over everyone's heads including the weary author who dedicated seven years of her life to the book.

And it frustrates the bejezus out of me! 
I write crime fiction, I read it with pleasure. But I don't do both things because I'm a gory, blood-splashing sadist. I love crime fiction becasue I love a good puzzle. I love to be handed all the clues and given a fair crack at solving it, preferably before the detective (or my annoyingly savvy readers ;-). So when a puzzle has no neat ending, when no one is cuffed and locked up for the crime, it makes me a little cranky.

And it makes me realise just why, deep down, I didn't do the Simone Strobel book.

At first I thought I ignored the book idea, handed to me on a platter by a criminal lawyer friend, because I was too chicken-shit, too relcutant to bring such darkness into my life. Now I wonder whether it was really because the case had not been solved, and there would be no answers at the end.

So what was the point of that? 

Does it help Simone Strobel or does it just rake over her grisly death for no good reason? I'd love to hear your thoughts, drop me a comment below or email me directly.

Happy reading everyone!
xo Christina

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