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 [F] Mystery Net Community  / Mystery Books & Authors  / Genres and Themes  / Themes  /

Hugh Drummond - 12:00pm Apr 29, 1999 PST
" I have a criminal mind... I see bad in everyone," (Mr. J.G. Reeder)

By this I mean the men and women whose mission in life is to punish those the law cannot touch. I researched this genre exaustively for my novel 'The Law Beyond The Law, and was struck by how popular a theme it was. The Saint was, of course a 'Vigilante', and Edgar Wallace covered the theme several times, most notably in the 'Four Just Men' series of books. Sydney Horler covered it with 'Nighthawk, and even Bulldog Drummond tried his hand.

So how about it? Is there any book in that sort of genre you'd reccomend? Any you wouldn't? Just talk.


Steven Torres - 08:40pm Jun 23, 1999 PST(#1 of 6)

It seems my first post went nowhere. Forgive me if I repeat myself.

While I can't think of any books in this genre, there have been many American television series based on this premise. "The A-Team", The Equalizer", "Knightrider" to name a few.

It seems to me that one of the difficulties in writing a series in this vein is the fact that true vigilantes usually work from a very personal motive (ie, a man kills to avenge the murder of his wife). Once this motive is exhausted, the vigilante must either end his work or kill for some lesser (and therefore less acceptable) motive. Come to think of it, many of the TV series that come to mind usually end each episode with the V exposing rather than killing the criminal. The proper authorities take it from there. Alternatively, the V may be roused to new anger by fresh outrages against him but then this is the pattern of the Deathwish movies which quickly became pathetic; after all, how much trouble can follow one person?

Also, I think the author of this type of series would soon be working against the common desire to see law and order work.

Hugh Drummond - 04:07am Sep 20, 1999 PST(#2 of 6)
" I have a criminal mind... I see bad in everyone," (Mr. J.G. Reeder)

Thanks for responding. But can you really call a personal crusade against criminals too clever for the law to catch a 'lesser' motive than personal vengance?


Steven Torres - 09:05pm Sep 24, 1999 PST(#3 of 6)

Hugh, In a sense, yes. Certainly I think the general public thinks this way. This is why policework is so often thankless. In developing characters for my work, I keep in mind that for most people the aggreived has a nearly universally accepted right to vengeance. Police do not. That is why they are disciplined for bending the rules. Again, it is important to know what the V does with the culprit. Does he string them up himself or turn them over to authorities? Also, why is he doing this work? I think this has to be explained in a satisfactory way or the audience might wonder whether he does not have a life independent of his crime fighting. Of course, as a character in a novel, he doesn't, but that's a secret.

Hugh Drummond - 06:39am Sep 26, 1999 PST(#4 of 6)
" I have a criminal mind... I see bad in everyone," (Mr. J.G. Reeder)

Which novels have you been reading to get the idea that the V has no life outside of his work? The Character of 'Nighthawk', who was a society (later crime) journalist to most of the world springs to mind. Of course, a motive is essential, otherwise the fellow appears to be just doing it for kicks the way a murderer or blackmailer might. Further, what would you say of characters like The Four Just Men, who are to the world 'gentlemen of leisure?


P Marlowe - 10:20pm Sep 15, 2000 PST(#5 of 6)
Glenview 7537 - Hollywood

Andrew Vachess' (Sp?) main character is a bit of a vigilante. His books are also pretty nitty gritty.

Carla Lopez - 05:01pm Feb 19, 2001 PST(#6 of 6)

What about Simon Templar, aka The Saint? There's a vigilante if I ever saw one! Also does anyone know if Paramount is doing another Saint movie? If so, who with?

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