Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Amateur detective

My husband and I watch many TV crime dramas together. We both enjoy "Lie To Me," "In Plain Sight," and "The Good Wife," for example, but we take an entirely different approach to the episodes.

From the start, I try to figure out who did it, and I have to "get" every single nuance of plot, every allusion.

My husband sits back and enjoys the interaction of the ensemble. If he misses a reference or can't keep straight exactly who "Mr. Borden" is with respect to "Mary," he lets it go.

I set the TiVo into replay until I have the relationships and names clearly in my head. "Oh, Mr. Borden is Mary's father-in-law, the lawyer," I report.

He shrugs.

On an old "Law & Order" (sorry to see it go!), in an early scene, a woman, the viewpoint character, is pushing a baby carriage, but the camera doesn't show you the baby. Then 5 minutes later, in another scene, the baby's aunt tells someone, "I haven't seen my little niece in months."

Too easy. "There was no baby in that carriage," I blurt out. "The baby died, or else the woman miscarried and is delusional."

Sure enough, the baby had died, and in a manner that was the crux of the story.

"How did you know that?" my husband asks, making it clear that he doesn't want such powers.

I'm not smarter; I just work harder at detecting.

Whether it's a TV show, a movie, or a book, I'm in there trying to figure out the conflict, the arc, the ending.

I can't remember if I was this way before I started writing mysteries. Maybe it's an occupational hazard. To some extent, it spoils my ability to sit back and enjoy someone else's story.

But if I enjoy the detecting process, maybe it doesn't matter.

What kind of reader or viewer are you? Do you sit back and enjoy, or get involved in detecting?


Dru said...

I do a little of both. If I'm reading I try to figure out who is the killer while enjoying the story. When the killer is revealed and I guessed correctly, I give myself a Yes!

caryn said...

I play detective while we watch or read and Mike pays attention to the action. It's reflected in the books we read.
I tend to read books that are detail/people driven (traditional mysteries) or police procedurals where as Mike reads political thrillers mostly where plot is action driven and there aren't so many little details along the way for clues.
So with a show like Castle, I solve the crime. With Burn Notice Mike enjoys the chases and the explosions.Life is good.

Ellen said...

Depends on the mystery, but I'm usually following what the author is doing, rather than the characters. It gives me a better chance at 'solving' the book.

signlady217 said...

I absolutely try to figure out the "whodunnit"! That's a big part of why I watch/read what I do! That's part of what makes it so much fun!

Camille Minichino said...

It sounds like I have a lot of company out there. Thanks Dru, Caryn, Ellen, and signlady!

Linda O. Johnston said...

I usually prefer being surprised when I'm watching a TV show but I often guess whodunnit--especially since there are some character actors who are nearly always the killers when they appear on a show! It's easier to be surprised while reading a book. At least we cozy authors hope so...

Linda O. Johnston said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Camille Minichino said...

So true, Linda. I'm always saying, "He did it," when I see a famous name go across in the opening credits!

Betty Hechtman said...

I know what Linda means about certain character actors always playing bad guys. I was in the grocery store one day and one of those mad bomber type actors was shopping with his kids. It made me wonder what it was like to have a father who looked the part of a villian.

Camille Minichino said...

It must be fun to shop where all the actors do, Betty!