It’s always nice when wrongdoers suffer consequences, as was the case last week when the ultra-corrupt Trump was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives. Sure, the repellent Republican majority in the U.S. Senate will acquit the Ogre-in-Chief after ignoring the huge trove of proof that he’s a criminal, but at least Trump got some comeuppance.
As in real life, it’s satisfying when literature’s miscreants get punished. This scenario of course often comes up in mysteries, detective novels, and other genre fiction — while also seen fairly often in general fiction. Some fictional malefactors obviously do not get punished, but…you knew that.
Among the most famous examples of bad guys getting their just desserts are the men in Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo who framed Edmond Dantes into a many-year prison term that not only took his freedom but his impending marriage. Revenge was sweet and masterful, albeit long delayed.
Rose — an excellent Martin Cruz Smith novel that’s not one of his Russian-oriented Gorky Park sequels — is set in a 19th-century English mining town whose residents include the nasty, brutish Jaxon. Protagonist Jonathan Blair spares Jaxon’s life at one point despite being beaten near to a pulp by him, but Jaxon eventually meets his downfall in a rather interesting way.
The sicko serial killer in Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones gets away with things for many years until justice arrives “sort of” accidentally.
In Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible and Paul Theroux’s The Mosquito Coast, there are selfish/tyrannical fathers who drag their American families into difficult situations abroad. It doesn’t end well for either of them, though they cause lots of misery before that.
And there’s the Mafia-type kidnapper in Susan Moore Jordan’s The Case of the Purloined Professor who’s cultured and smart but just careless enough to allow his hostage — music prof Augusta McKee — to give clues of her whereabouts to the people trying to find and free her.
Other characters and novels fitting this theme?
My literary-trivia book is described and can be purchased here: Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time.
In addition to this weekly blog, I write the award-winning “Montclairvoyant” topical-humor column for Baristanet.com. The latest weekly piece — which discusses America’s too-high military budget, impeachment, and more — is here.