The Dark Side of Love

They say there’s a fine line between love and hate. Do you believe that’s true? How does that play out in your writing? Do you have one book in which it has been a stronger theme than others?

Edith: Love and hate are both strong emotions, the strongest, perhaps. Someone truly off balance might act out of hate because they didn’t get what they thought they loved, but I think for healthy people the line is pretty thick. In Biscuits and Slashed Browns, the motive was revenge on someone who had deeply harmed a person the killer loved very much. A similar thing happened in Turning the Tide. I think of my 16 books in print, those two have the finest line.

Liz: I do believe that! It’s easy to see how someone maybe a bit unstable could be pushed over the edge. In Cate’s first Cat Cafe mystery, Cat About Town, the victim was doing something to harm a person, and someone who felt they loved that person and wanted to protect them killed him, similar to what Edith described.

I also think it can happen in many attached-couple relationships, although I haven’t actually written that story yet!

Sherry: In All Murders Final!  Sarah starts getting pictures sent to her through a fictional photo sharing app. The first one is of Sarah right after she finds the dead body of a wealthy, well known woman in Ellington, Massachusetts at her isolated house. The photo chills her because she looks around but can’t see anyone. Photos continue to be sent to her throughout the story. Some she assumes are from friends until she realizes that something much worse is going on. One person’s love is another’s hate.

Julie: Both love and hate are passionate responses, and I’m not sure if there is a fine line or when a passionate love goes bad, the hate is as passionate and dangerous. In A Christmas Peril love plays a role in the final denouement of the novel. I’m perking a Garden Squad mystery idea about long ago passion for book #3.

Barb: This question made me go down the list of motives for murders in all my published mystery novels. It’s a list that goes something like–jealousy, love, hate, greed, love, love, greed, fear. But not love/hate. My short stories tend to be darker and there you can find love and hate. In “House Calls,” in Blood Moon, infatuation turns to hate. In “Key West,” in Thin Ice, a mother’s love threatens to slide into hate. In “The Perfect Woman,” in Red Dawn, love turns to hate and desperation with tragic results. Passion makes a great motive because it ups the stakes for the perpetrator. Passionate love, passionate hate. Both work.

Jessie: What a great question, Sherry! I think the line between might be thin but it takes most people a long time to get to the place where the two meet. I tend to write books where the motives are about protecting, preserving or keeping secrets hidden rather than those that involve hatred. My latest Beryl and Edwina novel, Murder Flies the Coop, has more love angles than the previous book in the series but it would probably create spoilers to say more than that!

Readers: What say you? A fine line or a wider one? Do you care about the motive for the murder? What’s your favorite love/hate line in crime fiction?

11 Thoughts

  1. I explore this theme a bit in the upcoming HEAVEN HAS NO RAGE. What do you do when something you love betrays you (at least that’s your perception)? The title comes from William Congreve: Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell no fury like a woman scorned.

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  2. I think one of the (overused?) cliches in romance writing and less often mystery writing, is the “they hate each other>they love each other by the end of the book”. If done well it can work, but if done badly it’s not believable. In the Orchard Mysteries Seth didn’t particularly like newcomer Meg, but now they’re married (but it didn’t happen overnight or even in one book). Maura and Mick in the County Cork Mysteries kind of skirted the issue of a relationship, but Maura wasn’t looking, and Mick had a big issue that he didn’t reveal for several books–but it’s finally working out. (That book was Many a Twist, in which a lot of secrets come out–I thought that by the sixth book characters should make it clear how their history affects what happens in the present, and that parallels Maura’s journey getting to know a new group of people and a new culture.) To me a book falls flat is there’s no emotion. With emotion, internal or external, often comes conflict, which keeps the reader reading.

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  3. I’m not sure that it is a fine line, but I have witnessed many relationships that vacillate between ‘love’ and hate, although I am not sure that the true definition of love is actually the emotion involved. I think it’s more likely obsession or co-dependence. This having been said, I want to read your story!

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  4. What an interesting question. This has not been a big theme in my books – they have tended to revolve around complex family dynamics and social issues – but in the most recent published – there will be a new one in Dec – the surprise ending is more personal than it would have seemed. I’m starting something new, this very week, and now you have me thinking hard. Thank you!

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      1. Why, thanks for asking, Sherry. The one that is out now – came out in 2017- is Brooklyn Wars. The next one, scheduled for Dec 2019, will be Brooklyn Legacies. A relationship that went wrong is only one of the troubles in both stories. As to the new one? I have no idea what will happen. It’s barely a seedling at this stage. 🙂

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  5. I’m with Jessie. I think if there was true love, it would take a while to get to hate. But if it is obsession, then you could get to hate pretty quickly.

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