I have logged a lot of kilometres with one dog or another over my 43 and a half years and have never once stumbled across a dead body but in crime fiction it happens with alarming regularity. I know that bodies have to be found somehow and it must be difficult to come up with new ways for a body that has been unceremoniously dumped outdoors to be found, but by now any time I even get the hint of a dog I’m mentally jumping ahead to the body discovery moment.
Just in books I’ve read this year I’ve come across several ‘dog walker discovers body’ scenarios and I’ve noticed the phenomenon is world-wide:
- In Leighton Gage’s Blood of the Wicked a dog called Snoopy finds a body which has been dumped in the Brazilian countryside.
- In Simon Brett’s Body on the Beach a fussy retired woman called Carole is taking her routine walk with Gulliver on an English beach one morning when they stumble across a body (which then disappears)
- In Katherine Howell’s Cold Justice a teenager walking the family dog Wally finds the body of a fellow school student in suburban Sydney but it takes 20 years for the case to be solved.
- In Jon Loomis’ High Season a dog called Molly finds one of the several dead bodies littering a small Cape Cod summer resort town
- In Denise Mina’s Scottish noir tale Exile an un-named pooch finds a body in a story that someone tells as part of the book
I don’t let the phenomenon bother me too much (there’s one 5-star and two 4.5 star books in that list) but it does make me giggle.
Do you notice the ‘dog walker discovers body’ cliché in your crime fiction reading? Or is there another cliché that’s on your personal radar? What’s the best (non-dog related) body discovery method you’ve come across in your reading?
Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise is hosting the crime fiction alphabet meme which requires the posting of an article relating to the letter of the week. Do join in the fun by reading the posts and/or contributing one of your own. You don’t have to write every week.