Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wicked. Wicked. Wicked Wednesday.

James Patterson’s an old advertising writer like me. Wish I made as much money as he does. If I’m not mistaken, he was the first author to have a book advertised on TV. He’s also had other authors writing James Patterson books, under his oversight, early on. The man has done very well.

Every once in a while, I pick up a James Patterson book to sate my appetite for police thrillers. Admittedly I like Alex Cross, so when I saw Alex Cross, Run at the bookstore in the mall at Narita Airport, naturally, I bought it.

Few authors make antagonists as cruel and totally dislikable as James Patterson does. Okay. So I’m not talking Westerns. But the same kind of sicknesses affected people back in the day, we just didn’t know what to call them. They were all lumped into one word. Crazy.

I’m not all that far into Alex Cross, Run, but I already hate the wicked people who are killing without conscience.

He waited outside Dean & Deluca while she ran in for whatever it was women like her deigned to eat these days. He watched while she held up the line at the register, talking obliviously away on her cell phone. Then he crossed the street again, to follow her down the quaintly cobbledstoned alley toward the garage where Darcy’s Bimmer was parked.

Do you get the idea that something weird is going to happen? Me, too.

“Excuse me—Miranda?” he said, half timidly.

“Sorry, no,” Darcy said, dropping her grocery bag and purpose yoga mat into the trunk without even a glance.

“Funny,” he said. “You look so much like her.” When the woman didn’t respond, he stepped in closer, crossing that invisible line of personal space between them. “Almost exactly like her, in fact.”

Now she turned around, the annoyance on her face was clear, even through the Botox.

“Listen,” she said, “I don’t mean to be rude—”

“You never do, Miranda.”

As he came right up on top of her, she put a hand out to deflect him But Dr. Creem was stronger than the old man he appeared to be. Stronger than Darcy Vickers, too. His left hand clamped over her mouth as she tried to call out.

Murder in progress. Dr. Creem, a plastic surgeon, is also a psychopathic killer. He’s lost a huge court case. Now he’s going to get some satisfaction. What’s more, his partner in crime is listening to the murder on the doctor’s open cell phone.

“It’s me, sweetheart,” he whispered. “It’s your husband. And don’t worry. All is forgiven.”

He paused, just long enough to see the surprise come up in her eyes, before he drove the steak knife deep into her abdomen. A scalpel would have been nice, but it seemed best to stay away from the tools of his own trade for the time being.

What a subtle hint that more murder is coming before Dr. Creem is apprehended. This is an excellent lesson on how to make a wicked antagonist really sickening.

He leaned in close, to make sure it would all reach Bergman’s ears over the phone. Then he stabbed again, into the chest this time. And once more down below, opening the femoral artery with a swift, L-shaped motion, so there could be no chance of recovery.

There’s more to the sadistic murder scene, but what makes it doubly wicked is the other sicko listening on the cell phone.

When it was done, Creem closed the trunk and walked away, taking the nearest stairs down toward M Street. He didn’t speak until he was clear of the garage and outside on the sidewalk.

“Joshua?” he said. “Are you there?”

Bergman took a few seconds to answer. “I’m . . . here,” he said. His breath was ragged, his voice barely above a whisper.

“Are you . . .” Creem grinned, though he was also a little disgusted. “Joshua, were you masturbating?”

You can always turn to James Patterson for wicked people who wreak havoc amongst the unsuspecting populace. When Elmore Leonard urged authors to read, he was perfectly correct. At least when it comes to wickedness.

My own novel, Return to Silver Creek, has a little wicked sadism of its own. The perp of the rape of Garet Havelock’s wife goes without detection for most of the novel. So we get to see what his depravity did to a young wife. It’s not fun, but Laura’s inner strength pulls her through. Still, the first time Garet talks to her after her brutal experience, here’s what she says.

Garet took two more deep breaths, breathing quickly in and out to keep his own torn heart from breaking his composure. Still, his voice cracked when he said her name again. “Laura. Open the door, girl. I’m back. I’m here now. I won’t leave you alone. Nobody’s ever going to hurt you, Laura. I swear. I won’t allow it. I surely won’t. Open the door, honey.”

He stood in silence for a moment, then spoke one more word.


The sobs on the other side of the door were louder now.

“Oh, Garet,” Laura said so softly that only he could hear what she said. “I love you so. But please. Please don’t make me open the door right now. I’m scarred, Garet. I’m not the Laura you love any more. I’m another Laura. One you’ve never even met.”

Garet stood silently, listening to the low voice of his wife through the fortress-thick oak. His heart beat a slow rhythm that pulsed between his eyes and pounded in his brain.

“Garet? Forgive me,” Laura continued. “Forgive me, but I cannot bear the thought of entering that cabin on Silver Creek ever again. And dear, dear Garet. I cannot stand to see you face to face the way I am.”

Wickedness, true wickedness, throws away all the concepts of morality and rightness that we may have and digs up horrible acts and doings that we almost hate to read . . . and yet, we cannot help reading them.


  1. You're so right in saying wicked things happen to characters that often make us uncomfortable. But wicked makes for damn good reading.

  2. Patterson is a favorite though I haven't read him as much in recent years. And, of course, I'm a card carrying Tyrell fan.

  3. Charlie, my husband reads everything James Patterson writes. This excerpt just gave me chills--that is totally WICKED. You create some pretty darn wicked people, too. I really do love evil villains in stories, but...up to a point. There is some stuff I can't get out of my mind after I've read it. I guess THAT is the mark of a good writer, as well! Thanks for another look into your wickedness!

  4. The greater the 'evil' the more the 'hero' searches his soul, for there is that part of us that could be that evil but for... That to me is what makes for great stories. Taking the easy way out is not as satisifying to me as a reader. Still, evil to no purpose but voyeurism is a turn off. Doris

  5. A strong villain makes for a stronger hero. I'm enjoying your villains series on the blog, Charlie. You're a born teacher. :)

  6. Doris. Of course you are right. There is a line between what can be and what should be written when writing a scene. Once we had a writing exercise: write about a murder without ever using the words kill, die, murder, cut, slash, shoot, strangle . . . in other words, let people know the crime has occurred without actually portraying it. Great exercise. Thanks for the comment.

  7. The wickedness in Return to Silver Creek made me very uncomfortable... but it was very, very powerful and compelling. Not just damn good reading, damn good writing.