Monday, January 09, 2006
The Best Bad Guys
I have trouble sleeping before 1 a.m. This wouldn't be a problem except the rest of the family are such morning people.
Anyway--the last 3 nights I've been rereading The Perfect Husband by Lisa Gardner because it has this fabulous crisp clear opening that feels so real you can smell the sweat and taste the tequila. Having started reading this story again (for the fourth time) I couldn't stop. I was downstairs, alone with my hairy dogs, with the TV muted in the background and the fire burning low. And I was nervous. I was wondering about the basement windows, the closets. Letting the dogs out for their midnight scratch and sniff sent a shiver down my spine and turning the lights off gave me real pause.
Because Jim Beckett is the perfect villain. He's super-intelligent, smart and evil.
John Katzenbach has a similarly scary villain in State of Mind, who still gives me a shiver when I think of him. I can't recall his name, but I know he is still alive in that book.
Both are perfect psychopaths.
One of the things these villains have in common is family. They both had a wife and children. Both did unspeakable things, and yet, both felt very real. Very threatening. The books work because we know the threat exists--we know the villain is toying with the heroes in our stories, right from the start. The tension just gets higher and higher until we have that very satisfying conclusion at the end when... well I'm not going to spoil it for you :)
Read the books!! Or don't, if you're a wimp (like me :))