LOS ANGELES—Thirty-four lone-wolf detectives and beat officers from Los Angeles' 77th Police Precinct received unpaid three-month suspensions Monday for unprofessional and insubordinate conduct that their chief said he's tolerated for the "last goddamn time."
The police officers have been subjected to scathing public criticism over the years for their tendency to play by their own rules, which include refusing to obtain warrants, beating up junkies to extract information, and hurling corrupt city officials through plate-glass windows on more than 60 occasions.
Yes, of course, it's from The Onion.
But it got me thinking how the myth of the “loose cannon,” the “lone wolf,” the “break all the rules to get results hero,” is still such a staple of crime fiction.
And how there aren’t any in my books.
If there’s a common theme in my writing it’s about how we organize ourselves into groups, something that’s constantly changing, I think.
So, my writing tends to be about groups of characters – the police work as a group against the criminals who are organized into groups. Sure, there are lots of individuals (too many, according to some reviewers) but what interests me is how they fit into groups – communities.
Of course, this makes the whole “hero’s journey” thing a little problematic but I find that whole concept a little outdated anyway.
Maybe it’s because I’m not American and I live in the frozen north where we have to huddle together for warmth, but that whole, “rugged individual” thing never rang true for me. Even the old westerns with their stories of lone heroes often had an undercurrent of the pioneers “pulling together” to help one another.
Now we’re starting to see the teamwork inherent in police work show up in TV shows, everything from The Wire to CSI to Criminal Minds. Even a show like Castle has been using the cops more as a team to solve crimes.
But mystery novels still seem to be dominated by lone heroes.
So, what are some of your favourite mystery, crime, noir, whatever novels that are more of an ensemble instead of a lone hero?