I set my last novel, Bonereapers, in Norway. Norwegian winters are long and dark and bitter and there seems to be a gloomy streak in the national temperament that inclines people to thoughts of death. The brooding landscapes, the aura of ancient stones and ghosts of the past strike a deep psychological chord and add a special sense of horror to the crime of murder. Ironically, the homicide rates in Scandinavia are among the lowest on the planet. Perhaps it’s the rarity of murder that makes crime fiction so popular. A pool of blood oozing across a field of pure white snow is more shocking than a blood-drenched body sprawled in a filth-strewn alley.
Far to the south in sunny Greece, the murder rate is climbing fast. Foreigners are being beaten and stabbed to death on an almost daily basis. Violence against women and the elderly has risen sharply and the police seem unable to stop the rash of brutal muggings and robberies.
My most recent book, “Her Boyfriend’s Bones,” takes place on the Aegean island of Samos, which has become a chokepoint for refugees fleeing wars in the Middle East and Africa. Smugglers can transport their human cargo across the narrow Mycale Strait from Turkey in less than an hour, but the passage is treacherous. Many die in the attempt and the Samians, left to cope with the bodies washing up on their beaches and the horde of survivors who must be fed and housed, feel increasingly resentful. The Greek debt crisis and burgeoning unemployment have stoked fear and xenophobia. Corruption is rampant and bitterness bred during the military junta of the late ‘60s makes the island fertile ground for murder.
My sleuth Dinah Pelerin has seen murder both north and south. Trust her when she says that blood spilled on a gleaming white beach is no less horrifying that blood on a field of snow.
For more information about Jeanne’s books, visit her website www.jeannematthews.com