How to tell if you’re living in a crime novel…

It’s a scary world out there. Anyone could be living through a crime thriller and not know it. Fortunately, I’ve pulled together this list of signs that you may, in fact, be the protagonist in somebody’s gritty urban crime novel. If several or more of these apply, either see your doctor, or get yourself suspended from your job. You can only solve cases once you’ve been suspended, after all…


Signs you might be living in a crime thriller:

– You wake up one morning and realise you are a white male in your mid to late forties. You are overweight, alcoholic, and suffering from some form of mental illness (although it’s not clear what). You are nevertheless sexually irresistible to all the beautiful women in their late 20s that you encounter on the job (there’s usually at least one per case).

– Every serial killer in town has your home address and phone number. So many of them are watching your house that your street is practically a convention. At least three are following you at any given moment.

– Every serial killer in town has broken into your house to leave a message at least once. You are constantly shocked and horrified at this, even though you’ve never tried to improve your home security.

– More than half of all your cases are solved following a tip-off by one of the serial killers following you, to prove how much cleverer than you they are. Quite often they dob each other in.

– You have a beautiful teenage daughter, but aside from her all the women in your life are gorgeous strippers with hearts of gold, hardened prostitutes, tough-as-nails colleagues, scheming middle class housewives, and your harpy of an ex-wife.

– You’re in departmentally mandated therapy, but you can only really open up to strippers with hearts of gold, who understand you better than any shrink.

– A significant proportion of all murder victims are strippers with hearts of gold you’ve opened up to instead of your therapist. Serial killers need to send their messages, after all, and it makes you more depressed and broody.

– Your boss is constantly exasperated with you. His boss utterly hates you, even though you’ve only met twice.

– You spend more time suspended from your job than actually doing it.

– You do your best work whilst suspended from your job.

– Your boss is middle-management, but regularly gets the entire force to drop everything and mount major operations based solely on your hunches, often while you’re suspended. Fortunately you’re always right.

– Your boss tells you that “In this department we go by the book!” at the start of every shift.

– Your boss tells you that “You never go by the book, but by God you’re the best homicide detective this department has!” at the end of every shift.

– The city has a population of at least several hundred thousand but only around 60 cops. You know all of them by name.

– The city has a population of at least several hundred thousand, and a murder rate in the low 100s, but only 10 homicide detectives. Often fewer.

– It doesn’t matter if there are three bodies or thirty, only two homicide detectives are ever assigned to one case.

– Your work partner is a loyal, wisecracking sidekick, probably an ethnic minority. All of them. You’ve had several, they often die and are replaced with an identical character. It’s like there’s an assembly line of them.

– The Chief of Police himself often leads your cases personally. He never seems to have anything else to do.

– There are no uniformed police officers above the rank of Sergeant. Actually, there’s only one Sergeant in charge of every beat cop in the city. Even if the city is New York. He (it’s always a he) is a Grizzled Veteran who appears to be on duty 24/7, 365, and manages to show up to every crime scene. The only time he’s ever not around is the Final Confrontation.

– You have an ambiguous relationship with a major crime lord. You’re constantly threatening to arrest him, but you keep doing each other favours in the meantime.

– You’re a broody alcoholic whose flat is a mess. You’re the most physically capable officer on the force despite both this and your weight problem.

– You’re the best shot on the force, even better than all the ex-Special Forces people in the Hostage Rescue Team.

– You’re actually better at rescuing hostages than the Hostage Rescue Team. Even though they’re all ex-Special Forces.

– You’ve killed at least twenty people in the line of duty. So far you haven’t been decorated with so much as a ‘Superstar!’ glittery sticker.

– Most of the people you’ve shot were vicious psychopathic serial killers, but the first one was a black kid playing laser tag. Look, ok, it was dark, it looked like a real gun, he had headphones in so he didn’t hear your warnings, it was a tragic accident that was kind of the kid’s fault anyway. You’re a great guy, and it’s haunted you ever since, so it’s all right really.

– Your first case keeps coming back to haunt you.

– You can never forget that one case you were never able to solve. You know, the one that involved the girl who reminded you so much of your daughter? If you ever do, the answer will be vaguely unsatisfactory at best. It may or may not also be your first case.

– You have a difficult, troubled relationship with your beautiful teenage daughter. She never appreciates how much you love her, or the way that every sacrifice you make is ultimately for her.

– Your beautiful teenage daughter is constantly being kidnapped by serial killers or crime lords trying to send you a message. For some reason, you’ve never taught her any self-defence. Or trained her to shoot. Or asked for extra security.

– Every time you try to take your beautiful teenage daughter on holiday for some quality bonding time, you get called back into work to hunt the latest unimaginably vicious serial killer. There are no other good detectives on the force. Apparently.

– Your beautiful teenage daughter seems to be a thinly-veiled male schoolboy fantasy.

Symptoms can be alleviated by solving whatever case you’re currently working on, or that one case that’s always haunted you. Especially if you’ve been explicitly order not to work on that one case that’s always haunted you.


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