Here's the Scoop: Feb. 24, 2010

A mystery to me
So far this winter, I’ve read 112 books where the plot is something like this: hero is a grizzled (yet sensitive) war veteran who now spends his time chasing down bad guys. In several of these books, this work was done without the benefit of a paycheck — talk about a plot hole.
Did I mention that the hero who, every dozen pages or so is beating the tar out of someone or “dispatching” bad dudes in any number of ways (usually quite painfully) – is sensitive? I think I did. By sensitive, I mean he’s a great cook. And knows how to treat a lady. Of course, the heroes never mention to their lady friends that they’re working for free —this news could put a damper on romance.
Needless to say, I often finish a book and think, “Well, that was lame.”
In the early part of the winter, I wrote how I was going through a “Chick Lit” phase. That passed fairly quickly and I was back reading my old standby crime novels. I don’t like highly technical stuff, just a good plot and a decent pace. And, a sensitive hero, naturally.

Missing pieces
Oddly enough, this preferred combination is not often apparent in the books I’ve been reading lately. One book in particular ended with the author choosing not to wrap up the key mystery that had been hinted at for nearly half the book. That did not go over very well with me.
In fact, the next time I visited the library, I may have voiced (in a whisper) my displeasure over this author’s failure to solve the book’s big question mark.
Recognizing my unhappiness, the clerk threw up her hands and asked: What kind of books do you like?
“Free ones,” I responded.
I was informed that I was in the right place, but I’d have to be more specific.
The following week when I appeared at the library, the clerk handed me a book. “You should like this one. It’s a true story all about serial killers,” she said.
I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this statement.
“You mean like Count Chocula and Cap’n Crunch?” I finally responded.
“No, like the fellows who appear on TV in grainy photos and with their middle names inserted by the newscasters for dramatic effect — when a story breaks that they are responsible for double-digit murders,” the clerk explained.
I paused again, because I was unsure why the clerk would think this was an area of interest to me. Making this even more puzzling was the fact that, well, the clerk was related to me — on my mother’s side. Heck, she was my mother!
“Ummm, does this have anything to do with my childhood fascination of pulling the wings off flies?” I asked.
The clerk/Mom wouldn’t say anything, but somehow I was convinced that her mind was racing back to that ill-fated childhood day when my sister came downstairs very upset that from a dream that our cat had been found dead on the patio.

Not very nice
As any loyal, twisted little brother would do (or so I thought), I ventured outside, poured a generous amount of ketchup on the snowy ground and suggested to my sister that she take a peek outside — because she wasn’t dreaming that stuff after all. Her hysterical scream sounded to me like: “Great job. Nice realism.”
Other family members somehow failed to see the humor in my little crime scene. In Heinz-sight, I probably wouldn’t have done it again, but it sure seemed funny at the time.
Now, four decades later, my mother was encouraging me to read up on serial killers. Some things are never forgotten, apparently.
I must admit that the nonfiction book she recommended was quite interesting — in a chopped-up-body sort of way. However, out of all the serial killers profiled, I noticed that none of them were portrayed as sensitive. That’s a crime.