Who Can I Kill?
Parker Hunt is a great anti-hero detective. Hell, he caught a coven of Commies in Vegas and made himself a wad of money in the real estate business while saving the lives of three children and an abandoned wife of a bad guy. Now he owns a dive called Shooters that caters to WWII vets. How’s that for a super-hero? Now, his story continues…or does it?
Mystery/Detective writers face a daunting challenge these days: who to kill? Magazine guidelines are predictably adamant. No violence towards women, children, animals, or any protected group⸺blacks, Mexicans, Muslims, the old, other-abled, “migrants” legal or otherwise, and an alphabet soup of genders are off limits. And no stereotypes, please! But also no “cultural appropriation.” The Italian can’t own a pizzeria, but he can’t own a taqueria either. And neither the Italian or the Mexican can play sports. Too competitive. Neither heroes, nor villains (and that includes the military especially) should smoke (except pot), utter unkind epithets, or dine on red meat. Most importantly, sex must always be consensual, and men can’t be lured into lust by the seductive curve of a woman’s ass.
Weapons pose another conundrum. Guns are verboten, but no character can like Twinkies because junk food is a killer. As for capital punishment? Nope. Cruel and unusual.
Phew! Guess every murder victim here on out has to be a white, middle-aged castrated priest who worked for big pharma and played football in high-school. Oh, and he must revel in his white privilege. (Kind of begs the question as to why anyone would want to find his killer, right?) The same goes for suspects. A story that suggests any victim in the social sense (i.e. someone from a protected category) would rape, plunder, or simply be a meanie-pants because of anything other than growing up disadvantaged in a racist oppressive society, merits automatic rejection.
Did I say merit? I’m sure it’s a ‘code’ word for a ‘phobe’ of some sort. Probably straight, white, capitalist hegemony. As if Parker Hunt would have heard the word hegemony in the 1950’s. He’s not a sensitive kind’a guy. He’s deplorable. In fact, he kills a pregnant spy. That’s okay, Planned Parenthood won’t complain. Only five-thousand more outraged groups and causes to please.
Here goes. I’ll start by changing his name to Parker Sweet, bi-racial, multi-sexual, tofu loving, National Anthem hating, detective-turned-social-justice-warrior-investigative-journalist who owns a turkey rescue and spends his week-ends volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. He’s not out to kill the victims of corporate chemical spills that turned them into zombies. He’s helping them organize road-block protests, and donates a quarter of every dollar he raises by selling ribbons and tee-shirts to politicians who support the rights of the half-dead.
Yeah, that’s it. My next no-noir protagonist. Now to write the story that editors say they’re looking for: cutting-edge, gripping, gut-wrenching, cross-genres that send their readers to undreamed of universes and leave them breathless for more. It won’t be that difficult. I read one of those stories just yesterday. You know the word-salad of schizophrenics? Well, this was sentence salad and it was, oxymoronically, pure shit.