An article in The Guardian this week quotes the Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Police, Mr Nick Gargan, saying the portrayal of police officers in crime fiction is inaccurate. We are used to our main characters being “damaged goods” – drinking too much, paying little attention to the orders of superiors, having no life beyond each case (which will then go on to take over said life), leaving a trail of disastrous relationships in their wake (with partners, children, parents, siblings…) Could we imagine John Rebus going home to a nice semi, with a nice wife, eating a healthy meal, watching Location x3, then going to bed in his tastefully decorated bedroom? It wouldn’t make for very exciting books, and I certainly prefer the Rebus who falls asleep in his living room after a night in the Oxford Bar, a glass of good malt by his side, and Alex Harvey or Exile on Main Street on the turntable – no iPod or even CDs for Rebus.
Of COURSE we all know crimes are solved by teams of detectives, not “lone wolves” who disappear on a “hunch”, but, again, that wouldn’t make for a dramatic read. The clue, Chief Constable Gargan, is in the name – it’s called crime “fiction” for a reason. And I can’t see it becoming more realistic any time soon.