Today I finished reading a fun, light book. It’s the seventh (I think) in a series. We’ve known since the first book that there was a horrible, unsolved crime lurking in the background. A main character remains haunted, having witnessed the crime as a child but unable to identify the killer.
In this book, the killer is finally unmasked. And it turns out, the killer is the person no one suspected; the one who befriended the child witness, who welcomed the newcomers into the community, who offered a calm voice of reason in all situations.
She was almost too good to be true.
However, until this book, a reader wouldn’t give this character serious thought as a the villain. She read as good, but not in a sappy way. The character experienced good days and bad, sometimes made choices our main characters didn’t love, but ones that seemed rooted in reasoning and thought.
Book seven, however, offers a character who, while still offering a voice of reason and a supportive shoulder to lean on, is suddenly tired. This character has a light shined upon her that she hasn’t in previous books. While I think the author was, perhaps, a bit obvious in leading us to the conclusion, she nonetheless offered readers a shocking villain. How could this woman, who had stepped in to be surrogate mother/friend/confidante/mentor, have all that evil hidden inside? How did she balance her double-life?
As an author, I’m curious to know if the writer decided at book one who the villain would ultimately be, or if she worked her way to the choice over time. I love learning about each author’s unique writing process! And I know it could go either way, which is fun to think about.
In this story, the villain is the opposite of the frenemy; the frenemy is the friend who appears as enemy in public, and friend in private. Here we have the enemy who appears as friend, and that’s just not right. Is this the worst kind of villain? The one who can commit a horrible crime and when satisfied, act as though she’s a victim, too? Perhaps.