Round-up III

Nice to see my book deal referred to on Penguin Canada’s website this week. I guess that makes it official!

In an earlier post, also this week, I described what a ‘police procedural’ is. At Mystery Maven Canada, David Cole describes how hard it is to write one. Of course, he’s trying to get it absolutely right. As is Vicki Delaney, who describes hanging out with police to get the fine details.

Whereas I tend to think of fiction as kind of like acting. It doesn’t need to be true, just accurate. As Sir Laurence Olivier once said, it’s about “illusion, not so much a matter of being real.” In my books, the procedures simply have to be believable.

But unlike my friend, Vicki, I doubt that I could ever be a ‘ride along’ with the Cuban National Revolutionary Police, unless I was in their back seat under arrest for, oh, I don’t know, taking a photograph of one of their military installations. Or worse, walking near one.

These off-limit locations can be anywhere, even an unmarked sidewalk. And straying near one is apparently a capital offence

A young Danish tourist, Joachim Ogner Lovschall, was shot to death in Havana as he walked back to his hotel after leaving a popular Cuban bar. By security forces.

The  ‘warning shot’ killed him instantly. But as a kind of ‘we’re kind of sorry but not really’ letter from the Cuban government to the Danish government establishes, a ‘warning shot’ really means a ‘volley of bullets.’  As well as a security agent with no idea how to handle a gun.

Scary stuff, and something to think about, as you plan your winter vacation. Sigh.

Despite Cuba being official secular, and formerly officially atheistic, Cubans do celebrate Christmas, another of the contradictions that makes the place so interesting. I’d love to go back, before my books make me an ‘enemy of the state.’ I also love Steve Martin’s shtick for ‘atheists who don’t have no songs.’

Speaking of Christmas, Crime Writers Canada describes how some of us are more naughty than nice, and the ten most common Christmas crimes. (Shooting unarmed tourists isn’t on the list. Maybe it should be. At least in Cuba.)

And finally, showing the generosity that reminds us that we are not the only species on the planet with the capacity for tolerance, acceptance and love, even if it is not shared by security forces throughout the world, here’s one of my favourite stories of 2010. Mother of the Year indeed.

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