The Perfect Crime
August 2007 Virtual Book Tour
For other reader comments, please visit the August 15, 2007 post in http://jeff_mariotte.typepad.com/my_weblog/
Have you ever thought of committing the perfect crime? You scheme and plan every detail from beginning to end. You know your victim. You have a motive and means. Keep to your routines—don’t draw any attention. And now you wait—patiently for the perfect window of opportunity. You strike when your victim least expects it, then you attack fast, clean, and leave without being noticed.
Except, murders are rarely planned, they’re seldom clean, and the killer always leaves something behind. A strand of hair, a careless fingerprint, a trace of saliva on a cigarette butt or the edge of a drinking glass is all it takes. One slip and you’re caught.
Regardless of how random the crime might seem, there is always a motive. It could be as immediate as an impulsive response to an argument or as obscured as a childhood experience. Once I decide who committed the crime in Silenced Cry, my challenge as an author was to understand the killer’s motive, his madness. The hardest part, of course, was making the killer invisible until the last possible moment.
My writing has been influenced as much by film as it has been by literature. One of my favorite past times, in fact, is to watch a suspense or thriller and try to guess who perpetrated the crime. I’m usually good at fingering the right person, but I hate to be right. There’s nothing better than to not see it coming. Sitting on the edge of my seat with one expectation and getting blown away by the truth is half the fun. Two movies that immediately come to mind are, High Crimes, and Presumed Innocent. Both films successfully divert the viewer’s attention from the killer. In both cases, the charges against the defendant are dismissed, and just when I thought the cases were solved and nothing else could possibly happen—it did.
In chapter one of my novel, a shot is fired and the first of several victims is killed. In chapter 10, Homicide is called to investigate a cold case. Workers find the skeletal remains of an infant entombed in a wall of an apartment building marked for demolition. Two murders, no connection, and still no motive or suspect. The killer’s only advantage in this case is time. The Baby Doe murder was committed years before DNA was admissible in a court of law. It was an era when all a killer had to do was to lurk in the shadows, watch his back for a while, and if need be, pay someone off to keep quiet.
The investigation heats up when Homicide Detective Sam Harper discovers a connection between the suspects in the Baby Doe case and his late partner’s murder. Evidence thrusts him ahead to unveil a host of crimes and a multitude of suspects. This modern day detective and his team of forensic scientists know all they need is that single hair, a sample of semen, or a trace of saliva to pin-point the guilty.
With the criminals safely behind bars, the cases appear to be solved until Harper’s attention is drawn to an otherwise ordinary event in the killer’s life. It’s an unlikely slip but to the trained eye it is as damning as a bloody fingerprint. A key turns, the lock flips open, and the truth flashes across Harper’s mind with the force of rippling white lightning. He discovers the trigger, what began the throng of crimes, each intended to conceal another. Yes, the killer committed the perfect crime and for nearly two decades his house of cards stood erect until a seasoned eye and DNA fingerprinting revealed far more than the killer’s identity.