The Carver Blog Tour

The Carver Blog Tour

Rolling Stones, killer heroes and the burning flames of bourgeois rage … by Tom Cain

Keith Richards, they used to say, took drugs so that the rest of us wouldn’t have to. A similar process applies to fictional action heroes. They kill people on all our behalf.

There are, after all, times when even the mildest-mannered of us wishes we could pull out a .44 Magnum and blow away whichever rude, self-centered, arrogant, misbehaving, aggressive, intolerant, abusive, pitbull-dragging, ugly little motherf***er just cut us up at a roundabout, barged ahead in a queue, threw their weight around then dared us to defy them.

But a combination of decency, cowardice and respect for the law – not to mention the sanctity of life – prevents us doing it. And that’s where a gun-toting, baddie-exterminating hero comes in. Take my man Samuel Carver, for example. In his latest outing, handily titled Carver, Sam’s death count is considerably down on the average from his previous four adventures. He garrottes a man who is hunting him through the streets of Mykonos, takes out five homicidal Chinese agents in the tunnels beneath the Centre Court at Wimbledon, then puts a definitive full stop to … well, I’d better not give away the ending. So that’s just seven … which is fewer than his casualty-count in the first hundred pages of his first outing, The Accident Man.

Even his girlfriend Alix gets in on the action. She kills three men in The Accident Man and horribly tortures a woman in Carver. Naturally they’ve all got it coming. That’s part of the deal – the way the voyeuristic reader justifies their glee at such wanton bloodshed – and as an author one has to take care to set up each act of violence to ensure that its justification is strong enough to excuse it being enjoyed.

I think we thriller-writers actually serve a social purpose. I’m well aware – and by no means dismissive – of the arguments that say that ultra-violent movies, games and to a much lesser extent books desensitise people and lower the inhibitions against violence and even homicide. But equally, I think that the vicarious experience of seeing rough, often terminal justice dealt out to fictional bad guys acts as a safety valve, which helps release some of the anger, frustration and impotence in the face of their real-life equivalents.

Specifically, since reading is today a mostly middle-class pursuit (not exclusively, I grant you: but there’s a reason bookshops remained untouched by the riots) thrillers are a safety-valve for that ever-present but seldom considered phenomenon: bourgeois rage.


Carver by Tom Cain

In Carver, the bad guys are fat-cat global financiers. Not to put to fine a point on it, many of them get the shit well and truly blown out of them. Readers – irrespective of age, gender or political affiliation – have reacted with absolute delight to the concept of exploding bankers. That glee is the flipside, I think, of really deep rage. I think the middle classes are incredibly pissed-off at the moment. I think they’re angry about the rich who’ve got away scot-free with destroying the global economy. They’re angry about politicians who connived in our impending bankruptcy, have done nothing to stop it and have featherbedded themselves out of facing its financial consequences. They’re angry with what they see as skiving chavs who don’t work, live off the benefits paid for by those who do work and then have the brass nerve to try and grab even more undeserved goodies by looting them. And they’re angry at the overwhelming sense that the only people who are being asked to pay for any of this is, er … them.

All of which leads me to wonder whether I should have given Sam Carver a few more people to kill in Carver. Because, believe me, there’s a demand for it …

Tom Cain is the author of the Sam Carver series and includes The Accident Man, Dictator, Assassin and most recently Carver. To discover more about the author, feel free to follow Tom on Twitter or visit his facebook page.


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