I hear that true crime is hot. Newsweek did a story. Walter Mosely, one of the living masters of crime fiction, said we love fictional crime stories because they supply justice that real life cannot, or too often doesn’t. Mosely got that right.
I say this as I follow the case of Holly Boutilier, the slip of a 19-year-old who was killed in a homeless camp in Bangor, Maine. The murder was a pretty close replica of a book I wrote a while back, Home Body. (see post below)
The alleged killer, a general screw-up named Colin Koehler, is in the pictures now in jailhouse orange. Cops say he confessed to stabbing Holly, a feisty waif of a young woman, then slitting her throat. He’s having psychological evaluations. You can presume he’ll be found to be messed up. Oh, reallly? If he did it, he’ll get 25 to life. After a week, he’ll be gone from the news. In a year, he’ll only be remembered by his family and a few friends.
Where’s the justice in that? Hard to find. And that, in the real world, is as good as it gets. It doesn’t get any sadder than this.
Not to diminish good police work (the cops who worked this one deserve citations), but sometimes we need something more, even if it’s made up. Heroes who rise above the chaos, people who serve a mean kind of justice to the bad guys among us. That exists in books, movies, our imaginations. Some call it escape reading, escape movies, but it’s an escape we need. And we also need to feel that, in a better world, more justice would be done.