Cliches in crime thrillers

The one we have noticed in the past 10 years or so, is that the first person to be interviewed by the detectives (even though that person isn’t a suspect at the time) turns out to be the murderer. This is true possibly as much as 9 times out of 10. (Bones, Elementary, Castle, etc)

When people are confronted by the killer, their cell phone won’t work. Either it’s out of power, out of reach of a signal, or just out of their reach.

One on TV that drives me bonkers: The police give the killer more than one chance to “drop the weapon.” In real life, they say “Drop the weapon or I will shoot,” and the person had better do it within two seconds, or the cop will shoot.

Variation 3: Any officer shown in a photograph in full dress uniform receiving a merit or award will always be in league with the criminals.

The surest way to clean up crime in a city would to simply go out and arrest anyone with a medal.

Not to mention that these teach that one can make a good living selling three muffins a day.

A kah-chekov’s gun, if you will.

That is one of the points that caused me to give up on my Richard Castle/Derek Storm novel. Bonus points because her name was pronounced “Shebang”. Of course, by leaving early, I missed the part where she gets killed, as well.

One episode of Criminal Intent had Eames musing, “Just once I wish robbery really WAS the motive.”

The protagonist’s, usually a detective, efforts to think outside the box are stymied by his superior’s rigid protocol.

An example, one that seems to occur from the film noir days through today is when the young idealistic detective has a hunch or theory, but is told by his superior not to waste time on such long-shots and just play it by the numbers. Young detective protests, his superior threatens him that it’s his way or the highway. Young detective runs his theory of collecting clues on his own time, his theories begin to bear fruit, case is solved. Young detective is told “good work” in a dispassionate tone.

You can use and I have heard the terms “small caliber” or “large caliber” used. So yeah, you can tell a .25 from a .45.

You can *guess *at a 9mm, but a .38 makes the exact same sized hole. Now if you see 9mm casings scattered around, it is quite a bit easier.

Also- a amateur detective would find him/herself in jail, likely thought of as a suspect, or interfering. If you are not at least a PI, the cops dont like you messing around.

But I can tell you, if I did murder someone in a ally, I’d take the expensive watch, wallet etc, since then- of course!- it would be a robbery. Mind you, the homeless will often loot a DB, so even finding that stuff gone doesnt prover much one way or the other.

This happens more often that you think. Especially when the FBI arrives. The term “arrogant” doesn’t begin to cover it.

Yeah, that was a low point in the series.

Have you read the more recent Diamond mysteries? Peter Lovesey has been writing in a lot more lighthearted tone lately, and I’m enjoying them more than the early ones (although The Stone Wife was pretty dumb).

I miss that show. It was my fave of the L&Os, and Bobby Goren (though nuts) was my favorite [del]dick[/del], er, detective.

How about someone finds an important clue and phones the cop and says, “I know who did it,” or the like, but they won’t tell the cop on the phone and insist on meeting. The informant is immediately killed, of course, often (in pre-cell phone days) right there in the phone booth. Why do they NEVER go ahead and TELL them on the phone?

And then there’s the person (usually a woman or sometimes a child) who is either threatened or else witnesses something but cannot convince the scoffing/skeptical cops to take them seriously until four or five bodies show up.

How about the increasingly popular one where the Chief Constable (I watch a lot of British mysteries) definitely takes the putative victim seriously and hints that there are crooks in the station house, so “let’s keep this quiet while I investigate,” and it turns out the head cop is the serial killer! That one is fun.

Does checking the safety on a revolver count? How about referring to the cylinders as magazines?

Yeah, what is it with this bunk? :confused: If I had a chance to pawn off a murder investigation with little to no evidence on some other poor schmuck, I’d be all over that!

Or a killer picking up an empty pistol and failing to notice it isn’t loaded? (This happened yesterday on Mission: Impossible.)

Technical terms are often wrong. F’rinstance, Columbo referring to gunshot residue as “powder burns.”

on tv its the guy you only see for 45 seconds in the beginning

They have someone in custody and assume the crime is solved. Everyone is celebrating. The lead detective is worn out or wounded or both, so the chief sends him home. Of course, the real killer is waiting on his balcony, in his garage, in his bathroom, etc. Yawn.

A guy is attacked by a killer with a shotgun, wrestles with him over the gun, and the assassin winds up shot in the face. The would-be victim then changes clothes with the unrecognizable corpse and goes undercover hoping everyone will think he’s dead, thus preventing more murder attempts.

This one dates back at least as far as Sherlock Holmes (The Valley of Fear), and I’ve seen it as recently as an Inspector Banks novel from the 1990s. I guess DNA testing pretty much prevents it from being an effective plot gimmick these days, though.

I’m a big Diamond fan – Lovesey can’t turn them out fast or frequently enough for me. So far as I’m concerned, even the less-good ones are pretty good – Stagestruck, for example, I found rather far-fetched.

Chekhov said that a gun should never appear in Act One of a play unless it’s going to be used.

A frequent trope I’ve noticed is that a character who says at the outset something like 'What did the police want?" or “Have they got a suspect?” turns out to have something to hide, at the very least.

And then there’s the casual-seeming “Oh, just one thing” question as the detective leaves (which usually turns out to be what unearths a key fact).

Not forgetting the final post-denouement round-up of some red herring fact : “There’s one thing I don’t understand - why did the butler hide the bicycle?”

And the lying! When the lie is found out, the person inevitably says, “I didn’t think it was important.”

“So you fathered 16 children with the murder victim, but you claimed at first that you didn’t know her??”

“I didn’t think it was important.”

:smack: