Friday, 2 July 2010

Still reading thrillers

A while back I discussed with friends why my own novels might prove almost unreadable (well, being written hastily in a month might contribute to that fact!)

Anyway, as people seem to think I lean in the direction of Dan Brown territory I decided to look at blockbuster thrillers in the conspiracy realm, just for an experiment, and began to make a list of essential ingredients.

This was my original post, back in February. These are the main points:

  • Famous Location(s) - Tourist attractions, cathedrals, special cities, etc. which might (or might not) like the publicity your book generates.
  • Famous People of the past - Who's been done? Mozart (Freemasons), Van Gogh, Gaudi, Da Vinci (or rather Leonardo) of course, Jesus and Mary, Shakespeare, Kennedy Bros, Elvis, Marilyn.
  • Imaginary organisations (or imaginative alternative uses for existing ones) or very secret societies - [eldritch rising organ music]
  • Scary events - Bond villain plans for the world – religious prophecies – natural catastrophes – alien invasion – ritual murder – abduction
  • Alternative Historical interpretations of source of civilization/religion, etc
  • Money (almost infinite resources to jump on planes, etc)
  • Religion - and esoteric belief systems of magic(k) or witchcraft
  • Espionage – codes and cyphers, cryptograms
  • A MacGuffin everyone is looking for (manuscripts, formula, Holy Grail, magic spear, etc)
  • Ingenious methods (technology from Q, magic from Jonathan Creek)
  • a couple of investigators - partly qualified but a little out of their depth [edit: I seem to have overlooked the 'man who can do everything', so 'partly qualified' seems a bit weak. Check this update.]
  • some innocents dragged into the whole thing – often in jeopardy
  • plenty of disposable villains (for getting their come-uppance)
  • the Grinning Sadist – boss’s sidekick or lone wolf?
  • a worthy opponent for our heros (curiously charming - but dangerous - Big Boss, or terrifyingly unhinged tyrant)
  • Special helpers (Mycroft Holmes, professors, etc) - usually die, too
  • Anonymous super-rich people (malign or benign) – provided with helicopters, forts, wodges of cash, etc
  • Celebrities (who, like police and spies, have access all areas – assistants, second homes, etc – disadvantage – easily recognised)

Anyway, currently reading The Cult of Osiris by Andy McDermott and it certainly ticks the boxes: female archaeologist seeking to restore her reputation; ex-special services boyfriend (only kills baddies, but seems to cause collatoral damage wherever he goes); disfigured baddie; secret society/cult; Egyptian treasure under The Sphinx, etc.

At least the hero attempts some Bruce Willis-type sidecracks during the contrast to the total lack of humour in many of these type of books...

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