Is there such a thing as the “perfect crime”, and how would you get away with it? Confession time – personally, I’ve always had a soft spot for an ending where not everyone necessarily gets their comeuppance. Books like Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, or You by Caroline Kepnes are some of my favourite examples of how effectively this works when done well. As readers, we’re conditioned to expect that most things will be tied up in a neat package, but sometimes that can come about a little too conveniently. Sometimes we even find ourselves rooting for someone on the wrong side of the law, and wouldn’t begrudge them if they got away with it. Maybe they’re actually a decent sort at heart, but got caught up in terrible circumstances. Either way, some people will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid being caught.
In my opinion, the perfect crime is one of two things. Either nobody even knows one has even been committed and it stays undiscovered, or it’s covered up so well, that it’s impossible to unravel what happened, and who is responsible. Admittedly the former might not work too well as a novel. That got me thinking though, nowadays, so much of our lives are open to scrutiny, from our social media posts, to the dozens of CCTV cameras we go past every day. In theory, it should be getting harder to get away with anything, without leaving a trace, either digital or physical. But what if the crime had been committed so long ago, that none of this was of any use? This was the train of thought that led me to the idea for What Falls Between the Cracks, and provides the opening of the book. A thirty-year-old crime scene, a girl who was never reported missing, not even by her own family or friends. What happened to her? With no body at the scene, did she run, or did she meet an unfortunate end?
There could be, and probably are, hundreds of crimes that go undiscovered or unpunished. I’m fascinated by the idea that even people we think we know, could have secrets they don’t want airing, and the lengths they might go to, to keep it that way. In fact, I’m sure we all have our secrets, some more damaging than others. The beauty of this notion from a writers point of view, is that it can play out equally as well in a domestic setting, as it does in a high-octane thriller, and gives us so much room and material to work with. By definition, the crime in my book isn’t perfect then, as it does come to light right at the start. Whether it gets solved or not, I guess you’ll have to read it and find out.