Fascinated with the consequences of crime, Thorne Moore takes a close look at what it is that leads someone over the edge and the aftermath of their actions for those around them.
Crime. This one branch of human activity fascinates writers and readers so much that it creates a genre of its own. Libraries don’t have fiction shelves labelled “work” or “education” or “religion” but there’s always a section labelled “Crime.”
It deserves a section of its own because “Crime” covers so many sub-genres, from the cosy country house puzzles of writers like Agatha Christie to the psychological dissections of human frailty by writers like Barbara Vine. The one thing they all have in common, whether they are police procedurals or purest Noir, is transgression – someone has broken the rules, with nasty consequences.
It’s consequences that matter to me. My books have been defined as Domestic Noir, which is great because no one is quite sure what it means, but I get the general idea. My crimes happen in the home, not out there in the shadows, and it isn’t the police officers coming in from outside who matter, but the occupants of that home who can’t just shut the door on it all. There’s a particularly insidious sort of fear involved when the killer is sitting at the breakfast table, safe behind the lace curtains, among people – spouses, mothers, lovers – who know, or more likely who refuse to know, or are silenced by fear or love or dependency. You can run away from all the dangerous strangers out there and lock yourself safely in at home, but where do you go if the fear is this side of the door, in someone who isn’t a stranger but almost a part of you?
Psychopaths make great fictional criminals, and I have created them myself. They have no conscience, no inner voice holding them back, no sense of being bound by the rules that are supposed to keep everyone safe. But I am far more fascinated by the criminal who is burdened with that inner voice, who discovers that a single action that can never be undone can poison lives forever.
As with most crime fiction, I like to follow a trail, but not of clues. I prefer a trail of moments, events, words said, lies told, little things done or neglected, that ultimately push a sane person over the edge to break one the most fundamental taboos that bind us from the cradle.
Psychopaths apart, most of us would not commit a murder, even if opportunity presented itself on a plate and we could be certain of getting away with it. Whether by God or common sense, we have it stamped on our souls that it’s wrong. So what would make an ordinary person break that taboo? How would he or she deal with the guilt? How do those closest cope with it? Denounce? Shield? Deny? And how do they deal with the consequences, physical and emotional, not just the day after, but years after – even generations after. Where there’s a murder, there’s a dead body and there’s a culprit, but around them are circles, family and friends, at the root of it all, circles who will bear the scars forever more. When a murder happens within such a circle, how can the tragedy ever end?
In Motherlove, lives are turned upside for twenty years by a momentary delusional act. In The Unravelling, one-time school friends are still tormented by the mistakes they made thirty five years earlier. In Shadows, a house bears the memory of violent deaths that have happened over centuries. In A Time For Silence, a granddaughter plunges into the events of sixty years earlier in order to get a grip on the present, and in its prequel, Covenant, which will be published next year, the roots of tragedy are shown to go back even sixty years before that.The traditional crime mystery ends with The Solution. Ah, so it was Miss Scarlet in the library with the lead pipe. Now we can all go home and forget it. In my books, as, I suspect, in real life, it’s never forgotten and the people who were involved, innocent or guilty, will never be free of it.
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2nd August 2019