Thrillers versus Real Life Crime Scenes

Crime, violent death and big cities seem to go together, don’t they? Or at least they do in the kind of thrillers that we write, at any rate.  Revolution Earth opens with the death of a cyclist on a central London street in a seemingly ordinary hit-and-run.  We tried to give the reader a sense of what it feels like to witness something so shocking, by showing the impact on passers-by, who just happened to be walking down the street at the time.

But seldom, when you write thrillers do you think about what that street might look like after the event.  Photographer Antonio Olmos‘s pictures of the aftermath of London crime scenes, (Guardian Weekend 20.04.13) reminds me that when you take away the drama, how ordinary these locations seem.  They are by and large, bus stops used by commuters, street frontages of family homes in suburban streets, in short, places that you or I might walk straight past.

As Blake Morrison writes, in his introduction to Olmos’s project, ‘murder sites are spooky places.’  We perceive them to be that way because of a novel we’ve read or a crime drama we’ve seen.  But as there is death on the streets, so too there is life and it is the relentless pace of the latter that ensures that only the family and friends of the victim will remember what once happened in that place at that time.

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