Welcome to a #damppebblesTakeOver post featuring the incredibly talented Barbara Copperthwaite. I am a huge fan of Barbara’s Flowers For The Dead, HUGE! If you click here you can read my review. Let’s just say, I loved it and gave it a very deserving five stars.
Have you read Flowers For The Dead? You haven’t? You’re missing out! Here’s the blurb of this truly superb book:
“ADAM WILL DO ANYTHING TO MAKE YOU HAPPY. EVEN IF IT KILLS YOU.
Adam Bourne is a serial killer who thinks he is a saviour. When he murders his victims and cuts off the women’s lips, he believes he has done it to make them happy. How did he become warped from the sensitive four-year-old who adored his gran and the fairy tales she read to him? What turned him into a monster who stalks his victims? And what is he trying to say with the bouquets he sends? When he meets Laura Weir, Adam weaves a fairy tale romance around them. A tale she has no idea she is part of. As he hatches his twisted plan for their fairy story ending, can anyone stop him before he creates the ultimate sacrifice to love?”
I’m pleased to say that I have Barbara’s debut crime novel, Invisible, on my TBR which I am very excited about reading. My review will, of course, be uploaded to damppebbles.
Barbara has written a superb guest post for us today. Over to you Barbara..
The thrill of the kill in our own homes
Domestic noir isn’t a new genre, but it’s certainly one that seems more popular than it has ever been before. Gone Girl, The Girl On The Train, We Need To Talk About Kevin, Before I Go To Sleep…some of the biggest books of the last few years have featured run-of-the-mill, ordinary, every day settings that we can all relate to.
Your home should be the one place in the world where you feel safe. When it isn’t, where can you turn? What would you do? How would you cope? This is what domestic noir explores, whether the trouble is caused by a neighbour, a partner, or even a child. At the heart of all of the novels seems to lie the question: how well do ever really know anyone? Even ourselves?
Of course, the thriller in a domestic setting is nothing new (think Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca, or Charlotte Bronte’s Jayne Eyre) but it is certainly far more common lately. Not so very long ago, thrillers tended to revolve more around villainous types who were far removed from our world. Readers could sit in the comfort of their armchairs and know that nothing like that could ever happen to them. Even the style of writing has changed. Books were almost always (though not exclusively) told in third person. Now they are more often than not in first person, making the action seem even closer, creating that claustrophobic link as you know the narrator’s every thought and feeling, and are right there alongside them as they experience the horror of their life unwinding.
So what is it that attracts readers to the thrill of danger in their own homes? Especially given that most writers and readers of the genre are women?
Perhaps it is the fact that women are all too aware that the home can be the scariest place – with two women killed every week in England and Wales by a current or former partner, and domestic violence in general affecting one in four women (and one in six men). Domestic noir reflects reality for some people. As a journalist who has interviewed countless ordinary people who have found themselves in extraordinary situations, I can confirm that truth is stranger than fiction; that danger and evil can easily lurk behind the façade of normality.
Perhaps it is because women tend to enjoy exploring emotions more than men – even uncomfortable ones. Apparently women’s brains are more wired to understand and emote with emotions than male brains. Domestic noir is more than simply tales of murder and mayhem in the home, it is often an emotional exploration of the impact of those actions. As we read about someone else’s world unravelling, we cannot help but picture ourselves in that situation and explore how we would react. It’s probably no coincidence, then, that within domestic noir the female characters may start out helpless in their situations but they end up taking charge rather than needing to be rescued by a hero.
Some may argue that domestic noir reflects the cynicism of modern times. The relationships that appear to be the happiest, the most ‘perfect’, are merely a façade behind which lurks something unspeakably sinister – as seen in Behind Closed Door, by B.A. Paris, and Between You and Me, by Lisa Hall.
All of those may play a part, but I think the appeal of domestic noir is far more simple.
Picture this: it is a chilly autumn evening. The light is fading and you’re hurrying home beneath the glowing streetlights, hands in pockets, trying to think of what on earth you’ll cook for your dinner. Everyone else all ready seems to be home; the houses on the streets you’re passing have their curtains closed, and behind them you can imagine people sitting cosy and warm. The lights from one house spill onto the street, though. They haven’t drawn their curtains and you can clearly see into the front room. It is as open and illuminated as a stage.
I bet you turn your head. I bet you glance inside. I bet you look at the way the room is decorated and make instant decisions on the type of person who lives there…
Domestic noir is the illuminated room. It is a peek inside people’s lives that is almost impossible to resist.
Thank you for such a fantastic post Barbara. I confess, I would look. I wouldn’t be able to help myself…
Barbara Copperthwaite is the international best selling author of psychological crime thrillers INVISIBLE and FLOWERS FOR THE DEAD.
To find out more about Barbara, please visit her website.