Like all Americans, I have watched my share of TV dramas where homicide is the central theme. I have also read more than a few novels and even non-fiction books with the same theme. I believe I am typical as I read from the NY Times best seller list more often than not.
Without doing any research at all, after all this IS a blog, I believe we can all agree that homicide is probably the most common plot thickener of all time. And that goes way back. A quick memory search comes up with Cain and Abel. Then there is Romulus and Remus or something like that. Shakespeare used murder in more than one of his dramas. And the trend continues and gains momentum by the decade in spite of a rising voice of concern from parents about violence on TV and in video games.
With all of this violence, and specifically homicide, one could easily come to the conclusion that homicide is in fact a very common occurrence when the opposite is actually true. Here is a story from Seattle P-I.com on the official homicide statistics for Seattle going back to the 1950's . Granted, many other cities have considerably higher homicide rates, yet I have to guess it is not 10 or twenty times higher which makes these figures seem rather tame compared to the impression anyone might expect to have based upon the proliferation of homicidal maniacs populating our TV's and movies.
I expect the reader has checked out that P-I story. Bringing that story to the attention of the reader was my primary purpose in writing this blog entry. Reading that story and seeing those graphs and figures clicked with other information I have read over the years about the actual numbers of serial killers in our society and a proliferation of serial killer stories told through our TV and movies. Over the course of a year I might read ten different stories about serial killers and I finally swore off of them voluntarily. No intervention or 12 step program was necessary. I'd just had enough.
Consequently, I am looking for good books to read that do not include a serial killer. I recently saw the mini-series "I, Claudius" which had numerous and various forms of homicide, and technically at least, even one serial killer. However, given it was an historical drama about my brethren, and the serial killer was not a psychopath, but killed for political purposes, I did not censor this movie from my list.
My mother loved Greek and Roman mythology, having been educated at a classics based Catholic educational institution, and I am not sure if she ever saw this production. Dad? I know she would have put down whatever book she was reading at the moment and pulled up a chair to watch this show if she had noticed it in the paper or someone had brought it to her attention as she really loved programs like this.
Anyway.....it is nice to know that homicidal maniacs are actually quite uncommon, and does not seem to increase with increased TV, news, and movies concentrating so heavily on homicide whenever it actually happens or is depicted in fictional dramas. Actually, we are quite safe. Statistically speaking.