Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Nine notable moral compromises in crime fiction

Carl Vonderau is the author of Murderabilia, a thriller that takes place in the upper crust world of private banking. Like the protagonist, William McNary, he has been a private banker and was raised in a Christian Science family.

At CrimeReads Vonderau tagged nine of the greatest moral compromises in crime fiction, including:
Give me Your Hand, by Megan Abbott

Kit wants to escape her past for a different reason than Clarice Starling. Her best friend in high school, Diane, spurred her to academic achievement. But Diane also committed a terrible crime. When she confessed to Kit, Kit shunned her but never went to the police. Kit has felt complicit ever since.

The story is told in flashbacks and present time. In the present, Kit works in a prestigious research lab and is shocked when Diane joins the same lab. A terrible accident occurs and Kit may be held criminally responsible. She needs Diane’s help to cover it up and save her career. Diane hopes that Kit will now forgive her. But Kit’s compromise leads to more lies. She is becoming like Diane, inexorably edging toward worse things. Both the past and the present crimes tie them together.

This novel poses a contemporary question: What sacrifice will very ambitious women make for their careers? Long a male question, this is now firmly one for female characters, as well. The three principal women in the novel—Kit, Diane, and Dr. Severin, the professor in charge of the lab—have all chosen their careers over their romantic relationships. As people die, Kit feels guilty and bereft. At the same time, she can’t help feeling proud of being in this prestigious lab that’s doing groundbreaking research. She basks in the glow of Dr. Severin’s compliments and feels her future unfurling. Ambition is as much a morally ambiguous ally as Diane.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue