Doug has valuable things to say about fish and writing today. Read on!
Fish Out of Water – Douglas Corleone
One common theme in crime fiction is the “fish out of water.” This is the small town cop who finds herself involved in a high-profile murder case in the big city. The big city private investigator who lands himself in a small town after having his big city ticket taken away by his state’s licensing agency. This is the American in Paris. The Parisian in New Zealand. The New Zealander in Tokyo. Well, you get the idea…
The “fish out of water” theme provides the storyteller with several terrific devices. First, the storyteller is afforded the opportunity to show a world through fresh eyes. Second, the theme allows the storyteller to demonstrate contrast between the protagonist’s place of origin and his current setting. And, finally, the “fish out of water” theme leaves the storyteller with plenty of room for conflict.
One of my most recent reads was Michael Connelly’s Nine Dragons. If you are familiar with Michael Connelly, you most likely know and love his tough Los Angeles detective, Harry Bosch. Of course, we are used to watching Harry Bosch run through familiar territory in his hometown of LA. But in Nine Dragons, the kidnapping of Bosch’s own teenage daughter leads him to a city very unlike Los Angeles – namely Hong Kong.
In Nine Dragons, Michael Connelly takes advantage of all three of the devices mentioned above. Connelly’s Harry Bosch has been to Hong Kong several times before to visit with his daughter, who lives there with his ex-wife Eleanor. But Bosch has never worked a case in Hong Kong before – and that makes all the difference. Bosch is seeing the seedier side of Hong Kong for the first time, and Connelly describes it every bit as well as he describes the seedy side of Los Angeles.
During his mission to find his daughter, Bosch makes constant comparisons to LA. The air in Hong Kong is hot and beyond humid. The smells are different, some nauseating to his unaccustomed nose. And worse of all, Bosch is in a city where he doesn’t have any authority. Unlike in LA, Bosch is the one breaking the law by carrying a gun. And the gun laws in Hong Kong are harsh.
Finally, Bosch is faced with conflict at every turn. Accompanying Bosch on his search for his daughter is Sun Yee, his ex-wife’s current love interest. Bosch has plenty of reason not to like Sun Yee. But the question is: can he trust him? Neither Bosch nor the reader knows the answer to this all-important question until Bosch nears his objective and the bullets begin flying. The one thing we can be sure of is that Harry Bosch wants to get out of Hong Kong and back home to Los Angeles as fast as possible.
What’s your favorite “fish out of water” story?
BIO: DOUGLAS CORLEONE is the author of the Kevin Corvelli crime novels set in Honolulu. His debut novel ONE MAN’S PARADISE was a finalist for the 2010 Shamus Award for Best First Novel and won the 2009 Minotaur Books / Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award. Doug’s third novel LAST LAWYER STANDING will be released on August 21, 2012.
A former New York City criminal defense attorney, Doug now resides on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu, where he is currently at work on his next novel.
Visit him at his webpage: http://douglascorleone.com/ and catch his blog at: http://douglascorleone.com/category/articles/