Thursday, April 9, 2009

Murder & Mayhem

Ever since I was a little girl, I've always loved mystery stories, movies and TV shows. Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, Cherry Ames, the Bobbsey Twins. And then as I got older I liked all of those true-life murder stories like on 48 Hours and stuff. I got hooked on Mystery! and all sorts of other English murder mysteries. No one can murder better than the English. Their penchant for it is actually quite frightening.

But what might be more frightening is that I became hooked on Patricia Cornwell's books. Her main character, Kay Scarpetta, is a medical examiner who is always in danger because she tries to solve the murders of the people who come through her morgue. She's like a female Quincy (I loved that show, too). But these books are so grossly graphic in their murders that sometimes I read them with one eye closed, and yet I get sucked in and can't put the books down even when they get really disturbing.

I remember once when we still lived in Ohio, I stayed up really, really late reading one of the books. Eamonn had long since fallen asleep, but I was so freaked out by the book I woke him up at 2am. I don't know why. I probably made some excuse like,

Me: "Did you remember to put the cat out?"

Eamonn: "We don't have a cat."

(Name that movie)

I tend to have the occasional night terror anyway so why I read these books and terrorize myself more, I have no idea.

When I was in high school, one year around Halloween time, one of the local TV stations was showing a bunch of Anthony Perkins movies and I was telling one of my friend's parents how I was going home to watch it. So that night, right at the end of the movie, the phone rang. I picked it up and this voice said, "Natalie, this is Norman Bates and I'm coming to get you!" I slept with the light on for a week.

In later years I went with my cousins to see Silence of the Lambs. When I got home from that experience, I went in and woke my mother up. And then slept with the light on for a month. I had already graduated college and was working.

Anyway, I hadn't read a Scarpetta book for several years--probably since that last time I scared myself so badly--and I realized she had two books out that I hadn't read. I got one from the library and instantly regretted it. It was so hideously disturbing. And yet, I continued to read.

Last night I was about 100 pages from the end and I really wanted to finish it, but I was exhausted and missed my goal. Eamonn was already asleep when I turned off the light. I drifted off, but then kept having nightmares about Scarpetta and how she was in my room trying to perform an autopsy on me.

Why am I telling you this? Probably to explain the fact that I'm 41 years old and last night I had to get up and turn on a nightlight in order to get to sleep. And I intend to do the same tonight because I'm about to go and read the rest of the book.


Anonymous said...

I love every kind of book you mentioned. Did you ever read any of the Happy Hollister books? I scare myself more often than makes any sense. Even worse, I snack the entire time I read...more and faster as the books get scarier.

This year, for Lent, I gave up reading and eating at the same time. Hard business! I started a Vince Flynn book at the start of Lent and I am on page 41 now.

Turns out this hard-habit-to-break is causing me to read very, very slowly!


Kristie said...

And that is the exact reason I don't do scary books OR movies. I can trace mine back directly to junior high when I watched the movie "The Brood". Have you seen it? If not, then DON'T!!! :)

Amber said...

If you like Patricia Cornwell, You would like Kathy Reichs. I actually like her a lot better. And there is always Janet Evanovich, mystery with humor!

jean said...

I like Tess Gerritsen - MD-turned-mystery writer. Her main characters are a female detective and a female coroner. It's pretty graphic, but no nightmares so far. Maybe that's b/c I always sleep w/a night light - I think it comes from having a street light right outside my bedroom window growing up - can't sleep if it's too dark!

1dreamr said...

That's so funny...the other day I walked into my mom's apartment to the sound of horrible shrill screams coming from the TV. I turned to look and it was the shower scene from Psycho! WTF was she doing watching *that*??

Glad you're enjoying your book...and..., sweet dreams!! :-)

Musings from Me said...

I'm with you on the scary movies. I remember going to Jaws as an 8-year-old ??? I guess my dad wasn't the best at judging kids films. Still have not watched Jaws again. I was spooked by Blair Witch Project and don't even get me started on Chuckie! I find I can read scray books much more easily than watching a scary movie.

Anonymous said...

I loved all the series you mentioned! (Bridget- I remember the Happy Hollisters, too!) Still have the entire Trixie Belden series of 30 or so books and my 13 year old read and loved them a few years back. My scariest book moment occurred when I was taking the late bus to college. It was dark, we were only a rural highway when I reached the bath tub scene in The Shining....and screamed! The bus driver pulled over and yelled at me. Not a moment I'll ever forget. :)

Mary Z

Beth said...

Ack! Don't you introduce Patricia Cornwell back into my life! She's too much for me! I've read several of her books, and what is creepiest to me is that she writes about places I've lived. Places I know. It makes it so much more real.

It's 10:30 on Saturday morning, but I still have chills from reading your post!

Just say no! Natalie! Pull back from the abyss!!

Next thing you know Jack Nicholson is going to say "Heeeere's Johnny". Redrum.


M said...

Ohhhh....now that's baaaad!

Books don't really bother me but movies do...when I watched Speed, (however stupid it was,) I was dreaming all night of diffusing bombs and running from the terrorists...I woke up exhausted!

Anne said...

You should watch "The Ring." It is terrifying. I still get heeby-jeebies walking by the TV.