You talk about your murder in a distinct society.
In 2001, in what might have been a newspaper first (or at least, The Montreal Gazette suggested it was), columnist Jack Todd wrote an "interactive" mystery with a plot devised on the fly by readers. Each week, readers got to choose the direction the story would take, from a list of options provided by the author.
Even better, was that Nameless Dread was a pretty decent story, with some good, hard-boiled touches and plenty of good ol' sex and violence (nothing too extreme, though -- "The Gazoo" is a family paper, after all), set in Montréal, and featuring a young, ambitious reporter working the crime beat for The Gazette (of course). Her name's ELLE DUPIN (the homage is no doubt intentional).
Elle's a comely lass, even if her fashion sense is only a "step short of pure Goth," complete with nose ring, short, punky hair the "colour of dried blood," funeral-black lipstick, short skirts and ripped stockings. Originally from Oakville, Ontario, with a stint at the Toronto Globe and Mail behind her, she's only been a reporter for five years, but she seems to know what she's doing, and she displays a feisty hands-on attitude to journalism that could make this a one a real contender.
In the story, she's assigned to cover the murder/cruxifiction of a young film maker, who's been making porn for the the internet, and possibly dealing a little X on the side. In the course of her investigation, Elle and her partner, crusty senior crime beat reporter Eddie Murphy ("I'm not going to change my name just because it happens to also belong to some foul-mouthed, second-rate comic") run into an intriguing cast of characters on both sides of the law. They include handsome, educated Detective-Lieutenant Nico Xiros of the MUC police and three lesbian "actresses"--Sandra, Trish and Lulu Falana, wreaders met a few thugs, pornographers and bikers, as well. And of course the obligatory serial killer. It was fun.
But not only does Elle meet some pretty interesting suspects -- remember, this is in your morning paper -- but Montreal gets nailed down pretty well, too. There are even a few good local in-jokes. Then again, that's not surprising -- author Todd served as the opinionated city columnist for The Gazette for years, covering local affairs, sports, and now, evidently, crime fiction. A transplanted American, he now makes his home in Greenfield Park, Quebec.
The Gazette decided that Nameless Dread was successful enough that a year later Todd was back at it with Tam-Tam Jam.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Illustration by Joao Costela.
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