My current favorite TV show is Boston Public. It’s an often humorous, usually outrageous, and over-the-top, but still thoughtful look at our so-called justice system. One of the key elements about the legal system is how often it has nothing to do with justice. Not so the mystery genre, in which I write. In the real world, justice depends on who’s in charge, who calls the shots, who can afford the best lawyers (Denny Crane) or the best lobbyists. Only in a theoretical world, a world of right and wrong, of clear distinctions, where ‘might makes right’ is a falsehood, where the good guy always wins, is there true justice. Which, unfortunately, is mostly a world of imagination and fiction. Maybe this is why this kind of fiction is so popular, anad why justice is what I like best to write about. It's what too few people get, in their lives. They hope things will be better in Heaven, of course. It's why they believe in Heaven. Because too often there is none here in our world.
Those events that might turn history, like the Obama victory, are few and far between. The great thing about writing, especially fiction, is that the author gets to render justice. Every time. Norman Mailer once wrote a novel, back in his early days, called The American Dream. It was about getting away with murder (of course at multiple levels). A newer version, less lethal but in the end no less criminal, has been the looting of our nation’s resources by bank CEOs and Wall Street’s so called ‘Masters of the Universe.’ I think more than a few of us harbor fantasies, of late, of getting away with taking out a few of those greed-driven felons. That's where the respite of fiction comes in. Like my Hour of the Manatee, about a Supreme Court shoe-in who maybe got away with murder. But no one gets away with such real-life crimes like killing the whistleblower, looting the treasury and living happily ever after in Belize in a good mystery. In a satisfying thriller, the hero will always track that thieving murderer down, in the end, and bring him to Justice. It's what the people need, at least to have faith in their core values: that right truly does prevail over wrong, at least in principle. It's what we live for, we who have to live in the real world the rest of the time.