What are my heroes enquiring into?
Heroes in crime fiction need enquiring minds in order to uncover crimes, injustices, cover-ups, negligence or corruption. I have written about police corruption and its possible relevance to my novel DOWN. Some of the characters try to block my hero’s attempts at finding the truth, as often happens in fiction and, sadly, in fact. Fortunately, many injustices do come to light and many wrongs do get righted, eventually. That is why we have an appeals system and an Independent Police Complaints Commission, as well as some good investigative journalists.
What else are people sometimes enquiring into?
The police do not have a monopoly on injustice or corruption. There are often scandals involving planning permission, tendering and medical negligence, for example. Wherever a lot of money changes hands, you are apt to find sticky fingers and wherever there are large organisations, people are keen to cover their mistakes. Auditors, inspectors, regulators and the general public have a role to play in bringing powerful people to account. There is also the press. I have not yet written about that sort of wrongdoing in any of my novels, but I plan to do so. It will probably be in one of the Accounting for Murder series, On The Slate, which I have been planning for some time.
What about enquiring into the big picture?
When things go badly wrong, there are sometimes national public inquiries. The Hillsborough disaster, the Grenfell Fire, Bloody Sunday, the Iraq War all had them It is important to hold major institutions, even the government, to account. Right now, the biggest questions are about the handling of the Coronavirus pandemic. Many allegations have been made about incompetence by the government and others. Some seem reasonable, given the information we all have, but we don’t have enough to make sound judgments. Other allegations seem so wild they should appeal only to conspiracy theorists, but we need to know.
What good would enquiring do?
A public enquiry would sort the facts from the fiction and hold people in power to account. It would expose the truth and discredit some of the sillier theories. We could then make up our own minds as to who is to blame and what mistakes we can forgive. The results could show us how to do better in future. The longer the delay, the more chance that people will believe the wrong things. It will take a long time, but the sooner it starts the sooner it can finish. Let’s get on with it!