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Violence in real life and novels

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I abhor violence. I don’t go to movies that promise blood, gore and severed body parts whether on city streets or battlefields and, while I don’t have as much of a problem as Doc Martin, I close my eyes when they show open wounds, surgeries, or nosebleeds on TV.

I am appalled at the daily news reports of shootings, stabbings, fatal car crashes, armed robberies gone bad and quick-fingered police shootings in this once peaceful place I have called home for most of my life. I grew up in a society that hunted, and proudly received a requested rifle for my 12th birthday. I shot one squirrel, cried, and went back to paper targets and tin cans, but I have no problem with other people hunting. I do have a problem with assault weapons and mass shootings and their aftermath.

What is strange is that as much as I hate seeing blood and carnage, I seem to gravitate to murder and mayhem in the written word. I eschew romance novels and historical fiction, explorations of relationships and inner selves, and latch on to stories of psychopaths, serial killers, terrorists, or random acts of violence in small sleepy towns and the sleuths who figure out who-done-it and set everything right.

I eagerly await new books from the likes of James Patterson (and friends), Jeffrey Deaver, David Baldacci, Harlan Coben, J.D. Box, and others and am always on the lookout for a new (to me) purveyor of suspense and intrigue.

One of my all-time favorite authors is Wilbur Smith who, while he doesn’t write mysteries, kills off enough humans and animals in every book to fill a river of blood. In his many novels set in Africa, he has created some of the most full-bodied characters I’ve met in books and manages to follow them through many stages of their lives, many conflicts, and many changes on the world stage. Unfortunately, Smith’s career is winding down with age, and sagas of the Courtneys and Ballantynes and others are coming to an end. I’ll miss them.

Jean McCamy is a Wake Forest artist.