Get in, do it and get out
Let’s talk about crime, shall we? As those that have chanced to read my BUSCAFUSCO novellas probably know, I’m not that much into homicide. It was Agatha Christie, I believe, that said that a proper whodunnit should feature a homicide, but, really… c’mon, Agatha, there are so many crimes that are a lot more interesting!
And mind you, I like a good murder mystery just like the next guy, but having the possibility, I do prefer softer but trickier crimes.Pickpockets need skill and discipline, and a certain reckless courage. You are very close to the “client”, and you need to be light on your feet and precise. Con-men need people skills, the gift of gab, the ability – to steal a line from a great movie called Nine Queens – to create a completely make-believe world and trap the target within it.Bank robbers need a delicate mix of (implied) violence and planning. The best in the field are almost the jazz players of the world of crime, being able to adapt to changing situations.And burglars are like puzzle-solvers – they need technical skills, training, a good serving of courage, and stealth.
This, at least, in the world of fiction – I am quite convinced that in real life, most criminals are no-imagination brutes, thugs that get lucky for a brief moment, and then get caught.
And because I am a lucky guy and people give me books as gifts (no, really!), I am currently quite enjoying a book called A Burglar’s Guide to the City, by Geoff Manaugh (2016). The book, that is filled with the sort of information a writer will treasure, explores the intersection of architecture and crime, and looks at how the cities in which we live shape and are shaped by burglars and other criminals – people that see the landscape in a different way, that need to learn to do so in order to be able to crack the system.
Along the way we meet a number of spectacularly successful and spectacularly unsuccessful burglars, we ride a chopper with the LAPD air surveillance unit, learn about the FBI infiltration specialists… as I said, a treasure trove.
But the most interesting bit, to me, is this idea of a different perception – the idea of people walking among us that see the streets and the buildings not as infrastructure and shelter, but as getaway routes and boxes to be opened.
This is a very enjoyable read, filled with idea and quite fun.
It also promises to seep into my future stories because… yeah, OK, murder is neat, but some crimes are simply a lot more fun.