I still remember the first time that my friend Lynda shared one of her Nancy Drew mystery books with me. She pushed the volume into my hands assuring me that I was going to love it. Since it was summertime I had all day to devote to reading, and by the evening I had finished the story and was eager to borrow another one of the titles. Thus began my fascination with detective stories, murder mysteries, and true crime.
My voracious interest in solving “who done its” was only interrupted by the requirements of my high school and college English classes. Even then I found creative ways to feed my appetite for the genre by exploring new authors to challenge my sleuthing skills. I soon found that I not only had an interest in detective stories, but was also rather adept at solving cases long before I had turned the last pages of each volume. I also developed techniques from some of the very best investigators like the master of them all, Sherlock Holmes.
I’ve learned over time that my uncanny interest in crime is shared by people all around the world. There are many of us whose addiction to unraveling human puzzles fuels the abundance of fictional and real life crime stories in books, movies and television channels dedicated to the darker side of human nature. I suppose that for me the challenge is to attempt to follow the thread of clues both physical and psychological that unravel the truth behind foul deeds.
My mother insisted that I missed my true calling and should have worked for the FBI or the CIA. Sometimes she balked at what she referred to as my nosiness, and at other moments she appeared to take pride in my ability to logically piece together seemingly unrelated bits of information to uncover villains. For me it has always been a kind of game in which I challenge myself to determine the identities of the culprits long before they are finally revealed.
I’ve added true crime to my passion for the fictional mysteries of evil. I am fascinated by stories of people whose emotions lead them to horrific places. Nonetheless I am appalled to realize just how dark and desperate some humans among us are willing to become. I find myself watching and observing the people around me like some undercover cop intent on stopping foul deeds before they occur. I take note of faces, reactions, body language wherever I go. I once even saved myself and the party with whom I was walking from a mugging by noticing that we were being followed.
There were a series of murders that occurred along or very near a corridor of Interstate 45 from far north Houston, Texas to Galveston that remain unsolved to this very day. In each case a young attractive woman or young girl was last seen in the vicinity of the highway and then later found dead. Some theorize that each case is unrelated to other and simply a fact of life along a major road. Others believe that all of the women were killed by a single killer who went on a rampage of murder and then suddenly stopped. Among the possible victims of this supposed serial killer was a young girl who disappeared when she was out for a run. Her remains were later found dumped in a neighboring town. To this day her case is cold and no suspect has faced a trial for her death. The same is true of the many other instances of young women killed near the infamous route.
I’d love to find a real life Sherlock Holmes and lay out the facts that are known about each victim. If there is indeed a connection among their murders, surely his masterful mind would find the commonalities. He would be able to discern the difference between copycat murders, coincidences, and a possible serial killer who went on a murderous rush before finally going silent. So far nobody else has found a breakthrough in the various cases, but there was once a suggestion that the murderer may have moved on to a new locale when the danger of being discovered became too imminent. Others have wondered if the perpetrator ended up in prison for some minor offense or perhaps had even died.
I suppose that my love of reading and writing and people watching has caused me to develop a rather vivid imagination and fascination with human nature. My interest in the macabre topic of murder is in stark contrast to my quiet and unassuming nature. I’m also somewhat of a cock-eyed optimist seems an unlikely sort to delve into the realities of criminal minds. I suppose that I simply will never truly understand what drives anyone to violence so foul that it results in the taking of a life. My interest is perhaps spurred by wanting to comprehend the kind of evil that seems so unnatural to me.
Sherlock Holmes was a man of unemotional logic and reasoning. He was able to solve his crimes because he rarely allowed his feelings to interfere with an analysis of either his victims or his suspects. In truth it’s difficult for most of us to be so dispassionate. We put a human face on every crime and even find ourselves wondering what horrific chain of events brought both actors in the tragedy to such an horrendous moment. It defies our desire to avoid cynicism. I suppose that for me, solving the unsolvable fulfills a need to prove that we humans care enough to attempt to remove evil from our midst. I wish that the unflappable mind of Sherlock Holmes were real so that we might solve the many mysteries that defy us once and begin to truly understand what we need to do to prevent such tragedies once and for all.