Saturday 14 November 2009

Bad Blood

The overlapping territory between stories with a sci-fi or paranormal element and crime fiction is one that interests me a good deal. I mentioned a while back the vampiric elements that I introduced into the seventh Harry Devlin novel, First Cut is the Deepest – although the murder mystery there had a solution based entirely in the rational world.

But sometimes stories about murder wander away from the established science and into realms of speculative fiction. An example is ‘Bad Blood’, an episode from ‘The X Files’ that I’ve just watched. It’s a story set mainly in a tiny community called Chaney, somewhere in Texas. Half a dozen cattle have been killed and exsanguinated, and when murder is done, Mulder and Scully are called in. But is there a vampire at work, or do the crimes have a different explanation?

Matters are complicated by the fact that we know from the start that Mulder has killed a young man, whom he thought was a vampire, and the events leading up to this are seen first through Scully’s eyes and then through Mulder’s. After the flashbacks, the story moves forward, and it becomes apparent that all in Chaney is not as it seems.

There are several elements in this story that have links with crime fiction – there are some neat clues, and one part of the plot reminded me of a book by Val McDermid. This is not, in the end, so much a crime story as an exercise in fantasy fiction. But it’s a pretty good story, cleverly told.


Lewis Peters said...

Solving "crime" abounds in science fiction. An all time favourite of mine (particularly the film) is Blade Runner. A noir context overlays a depiction of a mystopian future and thrusts an outcast detective into a desperate race to stop murderous renegade androids who, themselves, turn out to be tragic victims of those who created them.

Anonymous said...

Martin - You're absolutely right that the paranormal and crime fiction often overlap. Your post reminded me of an old (I mean from the '70's) U.S. television series called Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and starring Darren McGavin. The premise was that Carl Kolchak (McGavin) was a Chicago news reporter who followed up on stories of unexplained murder, and always found a paranormal element in them. The series was moody and at times, quite suspenseful, although there was some humor in it, too. It was short-lived, but I enjoyed it.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I loved the X-files. :) It got off track later in the series, but it was really fun earlier on.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Lewis Peters said...

Oops, did I really type "mystopian" - meant dystopian of course.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks for these comments. I never saw Kolchak, Margot, and I'm a bit hazy on Blade Runner. But I do have a soft spot for sci-fi and I'm tempted to post about it again.

Anonymous said...

Margot -- they tried to remake The Night Stalker back in 2006 with Stuart Townsend but it only lasted a few episodes.

I believe even Sherlock Holmes went up against a 'vampire' which turned out to have a rational explanation, but it was fun to guess along the way.

Lewis Peters said...

The novel on which Blade Runner was based - Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick.