What settings do you think are best suited for a murder mystery? Your first reaction is probably based on the visuals from movies and television: parking garages, dark nights on city streets, hospitals, high rise office buildings, lonely country roads, etc. Settings are important because they present the backdrop of a particular murder. A damaged and distressed family life, most notable homes where drug or alcohol is abused, often is the backdrop for murder. We see those people and their homes in our lives and murder in such a setting seems real to us despite the fact that we are reading fiction. We then view the society around us differently. We see clearer the dangers inherent in a society where such abuse is regular.
Take the cold landscapes of the Scandinavian murder mysteries and think about why the landscape lends to the impending horror we next expect to read. So many reasons there are as to its effectiveness as a backdrom to murder. The cold itself is a danger if we are not protected from it. Natural wonders are always rife with peril. Not too far to go to see the possibility of man creating peril within a potentially dangerous landscape.
In my new book Sunnyside Road (Paradise Dissembling), the setting is a beautiful and tranquil suburban street. Why use that for a setting for multiple murders. Perhaps its use is to tell the story; the story we all fear. Can we ever guarantee our safety, or our family’s safety. The contradiction of murder in such a safe place is part of the horror. Imaginary is not synonymous with truth, but fiction is often analogous to reality. Is a puzzlement.