When Love Kills: Hate

Love can manifest itself in many ways. The opposite of love is, well actually it could be argued that the opposite of love is apathy. But hate is a strong emotion that serves mysteries well.

Wickeds, hate is defined as, “feel intense or passionate dislike for (someone)”. Hate can be a powerful motivation for the crime in our books. It can also define character motivations in interesting ways. Have you used blinding hate in any of your books?

Edith//Maddie: We often set up the victim in a book as someone who is hated by several people, so they will have a Very Good Reason to commit murder. The intense dislike can be for different reasons – because people feel robbed or victimized or shunned. There are a couple of people who hated the victim in Four Leaf Cleaver.

Liz: I’ve used extreme hatred in a couple of my books. In Murder Most Finicky, the killer definitely felt slighted by the victim, and that it had a devastating effect on their life. And in Custom Baked Murder, the victim’s careless focus on money, power and status definitely caused some people to hate her.

Jessie: I am not sure that I have used blinding hate so much as fear as a murder motive in my novels. I think I incline towards characters striving to preserve something like a reputation, their liberty, or their loved one’s esteem more than being motivated by hate.

Julie: Edith, I agree with the need for a Very Good Reason. I’ve found in my books there are reasons for many people to dislike the victim intensely. (We weren’t allowed to use the word hate as a child. We disliked things/people intensely instead.) Those reasons become clearer as the novel progresses.

Readers, do you like it when the victim is clearly someone everyone loves to hate? Writers, is your victim usually someone everyone hates, or a chosen few?

26 Thoughts

  1. I do like it when there are multiple people to dislike and then it becomes clear who may be the murder victim.

  2. Think liking the victim to be hated may be worded too strong. I think mentally it might be easier to accept the lose of any life on some level if we can justify it in some way. However, it is better in books to be hated by many than just one otherwise the story wouldn’t be interesting to read if the suspect was already known. 🙂 That’s the fun of reading a whodunit after all – not who got murdered but why and by whom and how the process goes about to find out. I love playing arm chair detective along with the sleuths in the story.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  3. It’s best when it’s an unlikable victim- there’s plenty of suspects. And it’s kind of a bummer when if the character is nice or even just an average person. Unfortunately, bad things happen to good people all the time in real life, so I want to read about the bad guy getting his due instead.

  4. In my stories, the victim is rarely someone everyone hated. Some folks may despise them, but not everyone. I guess I want to make sure the victim had enough redeeming qualities for my sleuths to care enough to search for the truth.

    1. I can remember talking to an actor who was portraying a reprehensible character, but his performance had made me sympathetic to the character. He said that in order to do his work, he had to believe he was wonderful, since the character would. I think about that a lot when I create “the bad guy”.

  5. I find it refreshing when the cops ask, “Did the victim have any enemies?” and someone says, “He was a total jerk.” Because I think that is a completely natural reaction.

    I don’t know if I’ve used pure hate as a motive. There’s usually something else going on as well.

  6. I kept trying to answer this, erasing my answer, and then thinking I’d come back. I don’t think I’ve used blinding hate — it’s such a foreign emotion to me. I think the only people I’ve hated as an adult are people I don’t actually know. I’ve disliked plenty of people, but it’s not on the same level.

  7. I find I often use power — getting it, keeping it, expanding it — is a strong motivator for most crimes in my books. Also important as a motivation for murder is preservation of reputation and control. Protection of self and family also works as a prime motive for murder. After all, the murderers don’t think of themselves as villains. Hatred pure and simple doesn’t really factor in. And the victims are not widely disliked. Instead they are roadblocks or impediments or other kinds of threats to the killer’s goals. It’s complicated!

  8. I prefer it when it’s not too predictable. Occasionally having the victim be someone everyone hates is fine, but I also like the element of surprise. Having it be someone completely unexpected gives it more depth. Why would anyone want to murder that person? They were so nice! And later on we find out they were murdered by mistake, or they had a hidden past etc. That leaves the reader with an entire group of suspects. Seemingly no one had a reason to murder such a wonderful person.

  9. If a lot of people hate the victim, the plot becomes interesting because there are always a lot of murder suspects. It’s harder to accept it when a loved victim is murdered, especially when the victim has appeared in earlier books and I have grown to really like him or her.

  10. I always enjoy it when the victim is someone everyone hated. Not sure it goes to blinding hatred, but disliked enough that there are easily several suspects with good motives.

    I do enjoy it when the victim is someone most people seemed to like as well, although I usually see the first in the books I read.

  11. I love a much hated character, but I also love a victim who starts out seeming to be a good person whose shady background slowly becomes evident.

  12. Gee, there are a lot of other reasons for a murder. An accident, a fight that gets deadly, being caught at something illegal, looking for a payout, being in the wrong place at the wrong time…Then you start wondering if there was hate, jealousy, desperation, and so on. You can still have as many suspects! Just gets a bit harder to find them!

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