The Murder Room author Margaret Murphy discusses her personal interests in cybercrime and the effects it has on both victims and perpetrators, and introduces her latest novel Now You See Me.
My interest in cybercrime isn’t new: my first novel, written in the mid-1990s, examined cyber-stalking before the term was even invented. My fascination with web-based crime grew as forums gained popularity, and contributors created ‘avatars’ for their online interactions.
I’m a big fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and back in 2003/4, when I was thinking about what to write next, I was mistaken on a Buffy forum for a ‘boy’. I was intrigued. The forum member accused me of being ‘more interested in weapons and fighting than emotions’ – which was wildly inaccurate – but it did get me thinking. On the web you can be anyone: you can lie with impunity, switch identities, change appearance, age, sex, sexual orientation, at will.
Which could be fun, but it can be a malevolent force, too, and I wanted to explore some of those more sinister aspects in a novel.
For me, crime fiction is about more than murder and its investigation – as satisfying as that can be. Crime has consequences – for the victim, for the perpetrator and for those touched by it. Violent crime in particular shatters lives – ripping the heart out of families and shaking the trust of whole communities. Now You See Me, the sequel to The Dispossessed, catches up with DCI Rickman, who is trying to come to terms with a terrible personal trauma.
At the same time, he is adapting to the reintroduction into his life of his brother, whom he thought he had lost for ever. But his brother has lost all memory of his life – past and present. How can they possibly reconnect?
The themes of identity and loss are explored through Rickman’s brother, and a hacker who uses the anonymity of the internet to manipulate identity and influence others’ perception of them.
In writing Now You See Me I’ve relished the opportunity to explore the aftershocks of violent and traumatic events as characters struggle to make sense of the violence that has torn their lives apart. And it seems I’m not alone: I’ve had lots of positive feedback from readers who enjoy the chance to revisit Rickman and Foster and see how the friends are succeeding in rebuilding their lives while investigating another complex and demanding case.
Margaret Murphy has six titles published by The Murder Room. Read her writing here. She also writes forensic thrillers as A. D. Garrett, and is currently blogging a research trip to the US for the second novel in the Fennimore and Simms series at www.adgarrett.com/blog.