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.

Why?

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 :))

15 comments:

Eve said...

Instruments of Night by Thomas H. Cook - try it, I dare you.

Shesawriter said...

I have read that book twice. And Jim creeps me the hell out every time. Lisa G got far inside his head. She's a better woman than me. That kind of characterization scares me. I don't think I'd like to go that deep.

Tanya

Toni Anderson said...

Never heard of it Eve, but will look out for it now. I like to be scared occassionally.

Tanya--I'd like to get there. I'd like to go that far and still be able to write about the joy of holding a newborn baby. That's some talent.

Loreth said...

Can't get to sleep before 1 am???? LOL, Toni, what happened in Reno?

Loreth, who is doing blog research tonight. Honest :)

Toni Anderson said...

LOL Loreth, I know!!!!! Everybody else is asleep and I'm twiddling my thumbs :/

Eve said...

My blog doesn't like me - won't show posts, not even mine!!!!!

Cook is like that - he used to write true crime and he can really get into the mind of a killer. Instruments freaked me out in more ways than one. He also won the Edgar for Chatham School Affair - I think that's the title, I'll check later. Have to run and take a cat to the vet's to get shot, er, to get its shots. *g*

Melissa Marsh said...

Oooh. Sounds like a good villain. I probably won't read it because I'm a wimp. ;-) I will carry that character into my dreams and not sleep for a week!

Eve said...

How's everyone feeling?

Toni Anderson said...

Son is still crotchety but seems much better. Doesn't want me on the computer though !!!!

Eve said...

I've been playing!!!!

Eve said...

Just finished updating my webpage - check it out (not the journal - the toomanycats thingy)

Toni Anderson said...

Looks good Eve!!
All about Eve. That's how I think of your site. Like the group??

Eve said...

Oooh, I hope there isn't as much backstabbing (All About Eve). *g*

oh, and some day your name will be on my favorite authors section!

Toni Anderson said...

LOL--I can hope!!

Toni Anderson said...

LOL--I can hope!!