Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Character Hunt

Neill Cream.
Hmm. Sounds like a nice enough guy.
Oh, but add this—
Neill Cream, Poisoner.
Doctor and murderer from the late 1800’s.

Great characters are everywhere. Okay, so he’s not so great – worthless in fact, but he’d make a great character. I found the account of his murderous history in Great Cases of Scotland Yard, by Reader's Digest – a book just waiting for me at a thrift store. 

Here’s a quote from the story on the morning after he’d given a victim his poisoned pills:

            “Dr. Neill found the story related at some length in three dailies and mentioned briefly in four more. He had all the papers on the table in his room; he scanned and scanned the paragraphs, going back to the ones he had already read. He was sitting at his window when he raised his eyes from the newssheet  . . . He looked like a wild animal . . .
            The passion for cruelty which led to the act was equaled only by the devouring eagerness to hear people discuss it afterward, to gain a repetition of the sensation through realizing the impact the deed had made on others.”

So what do you think about this vile monster? What would you writers do to make him a character in your book? What about you readers - could you see him slithering through the pages? Could you make him a modern day doc instead? What would you tweak? What would you leave the same? I’d love to hear what you come up with!


Danica said...

That's so scary! He would make a very intriguing character because it's so unsettling that someone that you would naturally trust to heal you is in a position to easily hurt or kill you. I do love a good murder mystery! :)

Brenda Sills said...

How insightful! I love it! Someone you would naturally trust . . . ooh, that's good!