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Mystery Fan Rant

I obviously haven't written a post in a while. I've been busy. I didn't intend to get busy, but stuff happens in this writing life. I made changes to my website, re-designed the interiors of several books, and started getting ready for NY Comic Con (October 4-7). Now I'm finally serious about goofing off. Mainly because my body got serious about letting me know I'm NOT the little engine that could! I have rheumatoid arthritis. If I don't goof off, the chronic symptoms of fatigue and joint pain take over. So, doing nothing is medicinal. No, really.

Of course this is an excuse to indulge in my favorite past time; watching mystery/suspense, cozy mystery, sci-fi series or movies. Brit mysteries are a particular obsession. But recently I've discovered Aussie, New Zealand, Scottish, and Canadian franchises. Thus my rant is inspired from binge watching.

Bletchley Circle- San Francisco is a prime example of what drives me nuts. Why create a protagonist(s), tell us how smart she is (they are), and then have them do awesomely stupid things? The original BBC version (Series 1) was so much better. In this one the women are sold as super smart, intuitive, and daring. Instead the writers proceed each episode to have them make stunningly dumb decisions that make me scream at my television. Not nice, people! Example- one of the group of "sharp" women leaves a very useful encryption/decryption device out on a table in her apartment. She instantly trusts a Russian musician and allows him into her apartment just because he tells her what is so obviously a scam story. Yet we're to believe she's not only brilliant, but has experience keeping top secrets, and with knowing that spies and criminals pull such stunts. Now I can hear the writer's counter point. She's young, trusting, and a former "fresh off the farm" all American girl. Okay, but my counter point is which is it? Her work as a WW II civilian dealing with hush-hush info that could cost or save lives should have made her more crafty and not nearly as naive. Same for Iris, the African-American character who is also a brilliant inventor. Yet she is silly enough to share information and assume she can trust people she's just met. Even when it's obvious she should be wary. And all of the women blunder into blind alleys, forests, etc. chasing suspects woefully unprepared. Then they look stunned to have guns or knives pointed at them! Naturally they're too lady-like to carry guns or split-up, or have a back-up plan?

There are examples of male characters being written this way, but I've noticed that this kind of teeth-grinding behavior seems to be more frequent of female amateur or even professional sleuths. The heroine who's supposed to be smart and daring instead comes off as dumb, the old "too stupid to live" syndrome. You know the woman - she goes searching for clues in the woods wearing a skirt and high heels. Suddenly she's stunned to have a menacing figure chasing her. She trips and twists her ankle (big surprise). Then lies there whimpering. Writers have her rescued in a variety of ways (big strong guy or stroke of luck that injures/scares off the threat). Even as a ten-year-old aspiring mystery writer, I was disgusted with that. Well, some good comes from me getting intensely annoyed. I decided to write my own mysteries with female sleuths had showed more common sense!

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