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Mayhem! October 21, 2010

Posted by Evelyn in Adventure, Fiction, Mystery, Thoughtful Ramblings, Thrillers.
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A popular insurance company commercial uses a character named “Mayhem” as a villan who wreaks havoc on people’s lives and property. Mayhem lurks around every corner with a sly smile just waiting for someone to slip or not pay attention. Several thriller authors also do a great job using mayhem as an integral part of their plots.

 

Linwood Barclay is probably one of the best at using mayhem in his thrillers using the common theme of an ordinary person whose life is turned upside down by a single event. The character must then find a missing loved one, prove their innocence, or some similar feat. For example in No Time for Goodbye a teenage girl wakes up from a night of partying to find her parents and brother vanished without a trace.  In his book, Never Look Away a newspaper reporter takes his wife and young son to an amusement park because she’s been depressed. In an instant, she disappears and he can’t find anyone who even remembers seeing her.

Harlan Coben is also a master of mayhem. In Tell No One a doctor gets a cryptic email telling him his wife may still be alive eight years after she was supposedly murdered at a deserted summer camp. Similarly in Gone for Good, a man digs for details of an old neighborhood murder that happened at the same time his brother disappeared.

 

 

 Joseph Finder is another mayhem master. His talent is putting an ordinary man in an extraordinary position in a big business or government setting. In Killer Instinct a nice-guy salesman befriends an ex-special forces truck driver, getting him a security job in his company.  Is it just a coincidence that his sales increase dramatically as any competition vanishes? In Paranoia a low-level employee is caught embezzling funds and coerced into becoming a spy in a rival firm—a bigger risk than he ever bargained for.

 

I’m sure there are many more masters of mayhem out there. Who’s your favorite?

~Evelyn

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