When Comeuppance Comes Up

Trump impeachedIt’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.

54 thoughts on “When Comeuppance Comes Up

  1. It’s amazing when ignorant people try to sound smart. You sir should stay in your lane……the impeachment voted on in the house is not an official impeachment until its submitted to the Senate. The Senate will acquit and then it’ll go to the supreme court which will find it unconstitutional, due to the fact that it was not bi-partisan. An occurence specifically mentioned by the founders of this country, as being opposite to the intent of checks and balances……in which case it will be thrown out. But it’s a good try but your perspective is as wrong as the perspective of the liberals in this country.

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    • Thank you for the comment, Ifryback. Hmm…I’m an “ignorant” person yet smart enough to write a literature blog. Interesting…

      The reason the impeachment vote hasn’t been submitted to the Republican-majority Senate yet is that McConnell and company refuse to hold anything resembling an impartial trial.

      Of course the Senate will acquit because its Republican members are scared Trump will tweet against them if they don’t, plus they agree with most of Trump’s vile policies. And, sure, the now-Republican-stacked Supreme Court (after the block-Merrick Garland travesty and the approval of guilty-of-past-sexual-misconduct Kavanaugh) would most likely support anything the GOP wants.

      As for your phrase “stay in your lane,” that’s a National Rifle Association talking point (first aimed at doctors who, after treating horrifically injured shooting victims, “dared” to criticize the NRA). So, not a very original phrase. And, given that this is my own blog, I can stay in any discussion lane I want — I periodically discuss politics here, and write a separate humor column that’s often political.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy, lfryback!

      — It’s amazing when ignorant people try to sound smart. —

      And those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

      — the impeachment voted on in the house is not an official impeachment until its submitted to the Senate. —

      Jonathan Turley, the Shapiro professor of public interest law at George Washington University, addressed this lie in “The Washington Post” 26 December under the truthful headline: “I testified against Trump’s impeachment. But let’s not pretend it didn’t happen.”

      — The Senate will acquit and then it’ll go to the supreme court —

      Under the U.S. Constitution, “[t]he Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments.” If the Senate were to acquit the Prevaricator in Chief, then there would be no recourse to the Supreme Court.

      — which will find it unconstitutional, due to the fact that it was not bi-partisan [sic]. An occurence [sic] specifically mentioned by the founders of this country —

      Specifically speaking, the U.S. Constitution does not require a bipartisan vote on presidential impeachments in either the House of Representatives or the Senate.

      To paraphrase the deceased U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, all of us are entitled to our own opinions, but none of us are entitled to our own facts.

      J.J. (Alias MugRuith1)

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Dave,

    I haven’t commented here over the last couple of weeks as much as I’d like to, but hopefully with the silly season becoming a tinier bit less silly, there might be more time.

    Whenever I think of evil, and especially good vs. evil, I can’t help but think of “Harry Potter”. Of course, most of Rowling’s characters are shades of grey, and you don’t really want truly horrible things to happen to anyone… except Dolores Umbridge! There’s a lot of satisfaction when the centaurs get some revenge on her. Even if she doesn’t quite get what she deserved.

    The TV adaptation of “Game of Thrones” saw some pretty evil characters die. Some pretty good ones died too, but there were some particularly nasty characters who get very fitting endings. Ramsay Bolton tortured his dogs, starving them so they’d eat his enemies, and so it was VERY satisfying when those same dogs ate him!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Susan! Glad you could comment today!

      Great point that many “Harry Potter” characters have shades of gray, even as some are all good or all bad. And, yes, revenge was “sweet” when Dolores Umbridge was the recipient of it.

      I only read the first book in the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, and never watched “Game of Thrones,” but I’m VERY happy to hear about Ramsay Bolton’s deserved fate. Anyone who tortures animals is among the lowest of the low.

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      • Unfortunately, the animal torturing was just the tip of the iceberg. Of course, I realise that I’ve given away some spoilers here, but hopefully anybody who knows how vile Ramsay is, but doesn’t know what happened to him, had the sense to stop reading. And I left out some key points so that it will hopefully still be fun for anybody that I did spoil this for…

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yikes — he sounds evil in every way. 😦

          As for spoilers, my blog posts also inevitably contain some — which I feel guilty about but I’m not sure I could write the posts without doing that occasionally.

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  3. Davem I strongly believe trumps Comeuppance can`t be far away !

    I would say Gouri from ” The Lowland “, by Jhumba Lahiri finally got what she deserved. Rejected by the only child she abandoned when Bela was 5 who grew up to be a fine young woman lto et Gouri know what Gouri deserved.

    Last Sunday PBS was showing Pride and prejudice the 6 hours mini series. I am hoping they would finish it tomorrow. In the book ” Wickham ” the wicked man got what was coming to him.. Darcy made sure Wickham pays his dues by trying to ruin his sisters life.

    In every Reacher book by Lee Child , the wicked people always gets their Comeuppance , Jack sees to that .

    I am patiently waiting for Comeuppance coming to the racist, demagogue liar in chief.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, bebe! I hope you’re right about Trump’s ultimate, richly deserved comeuppance; he seems to get away with almost everything.

        Excellent example from “The Lowland”! Bela had no reason to be very forgiving after the way her mother treated her and abandoned her.

        And, yes, that “Pride and Prejudice” character definitely fits this topic — as do the Reacher novels. SO satisfying when the villains get their comeuppance from Jack; wish it happened more in real life.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. For those readers who’d like to see a comeuppance with a university setting, there’s “Lucky Jim” by Kingsley Amis (dad of Martin). It’s been decades since I saw the inside of this book, but I do recall that toadyism was bested and Jim rewarded. Seemed a bit like a wish fulfillment on the author’s part more than realism, but I was young and jaded. Now that I’m old and jaded, I might have another opinion

    Happy holidays, all!.(But especially to you Dave, who has tended this garden and its inhabitants with such tender care.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Happy Holidays to you, too, jhNY! And thank you for the kind words — and the mention of “Lucky Jim”! Deserved comeuppance is often wish-fulfillment in literature; the “bad guys” win too often in real life, in large part because they’re ruthless, rig the results, etc.

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  5. Dave, I’m going to have to try and re-create the comment I made this morning. It’s been a while since I posted many comments, but I thought the one that was finally resolved was having to type a comment and then copy and paste it into Word Press. Now I’m having trouble logging in, so I hope 3rd time is a charm. However, I didn’t do that this morning and lost my comment, so here goes. I suppose most of the “villains” in Jane Austen’s novels received their comeuppance of some sort, even if it was just who they had to end up married to or living with even if they received some financial rewards. Wickham was forced to marry the silly Lydia, and Willoughby got his rich heiress, but never really got over losing the woman he truly loved, Marianne Dashwood. Worst of all was Maria Bertram having to live in disgrace with only the despicable Mrs. Norris as her companion (Yikes!). Many of Austen’s characters were just plain silly, such as Mr. Collins, or pretentious snobs like Sir Walter Eliot and Lady Catherine de Bourgh. I’ve not read any of her books lately, but it’s nice to revisit Austen’s wonderful characters, whether good or bad.

    On another topic, I just ordered the latest novel by Lisa Genova, who we’d talked about not too long ago. The plot summary really appealed to me about a concert pianist who has ALS. Plus I love her writing style.

    I did settle on my Pocono Lake home and moved back to Chester County on December 2, I love my apartment, mostly because it’s small and cozy and they have maintenance people on the property to take care of most everything we were doing or paying someone to do. There are still some things to do, such as hanging paintings and prints and putting photos around. I have to buy a few more things for here, but my only major purchase was what we’re calling my reading chair, which hopefully will motivate me to get back to what I love best. I’m feeling much better after my stay at the hospital and rehab, and started with outpatient physical therapy last week.

    Wishing you and all a peaceful and joyful holiday season! It’s been a bit difficult for me with you-know-who running the country, but I’m trying my best! . . ,

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Kat Lit! Sorry about the trouble with posting. Since this last happened, I’ve discovered the spam folder in my blog’s “backstage” area — where I just saw two comments by you. I have no idea why they ended up there, but I’m able to release spammed comments to the blog. So next time this happens, you can send me a quick email and I’ll release the comment and you won’t have to re-create it! Now I’ll reply to the rest of your comment…

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      • Kat Lit, very glad you stopped by to share your Jane Austen expertise! Most of her villains or sort-of “villains” do indeed receive some comeuppance, whether minor or major.

        I’ve now read three Lisa Genova novels (“Still Alice,” “Inside the O’Briens,” “Left Neglected”) and have become a big fan! Thank you for being one of the commenters to recommend her. I’m sure her latest book must be excellent.

        So glad you’re now mostly settled into your new place, that you like it a lot, and that you’re feeling much better! Great to hear!

        Very Happy Holidays to you, too! (I hear you about how the onerous Oval Office occupant decreases every decent person’s happiness quotient. 😦 )

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    • Hi Kat Lit, so good to see you !
      I was also gone for a while as I broke my right humerous bone by being unmindful for a stupid fall on a perfectly dry day.
      After months of P T I can write and back here.

      Although with the lying, demagogue , climate change denier running I am not reading as much I used to by being distracted constantly by the harm the liar is inflecting upon all of us.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. In real life Lady Justice is blind, holds a scale and a double-edged sword, a powerful symbol opposed to our finite, subjective knowledge which today manifests as competing public narratives. In fiction the wrongfully accused always interest me, such as in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s latest, The Forest of Enchantments. The comeuppance her female protagonist settles upon is unique and generous as a truly creative solution. The question of how revenge or justice should look is indeed provocative. Great novels can do that!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Yeah, Another Blogger! I haven’t read that deeply in Agatha Christie’s “canon” — five books or so — with “The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd” among the ones I haven’t gotten to. I’ve heard very good things about it (including your enthusiastic recommendation above), and hope to read it!

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    • Yeah, Another Blogger – Dave knows that I own and have read all of the Agatha Christie novels, most of them twice. I’ve always been a huge mystery/thriller/crime reader, and it’s true that in almost all of the bad people get their comeuppance. It goes with the territory. I agree with you about “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd,” partly because it’s so well constructed, as are most of Christie’s novels, but this one is so very different. I think some critics didn’t like it, but I think it was masterful and well worth reading.

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  7. Wow, Dave, you’ve put me in with some pretty heady company!! Thanks so much. I have to say, writing “The Case of the Purloined Professor” was an exciting journey for this author. Creating an “in depth” villain was a new challenge, and I could never have written the rescue without the assistance of retired Lt. Detective Steve Kramer of Cincinnati. I learned a ton about police procedure!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re very welcome, Susan! 🙂 He was definitely a three-dimensional villain — one even felt a bit of sympathy for him (his preferred career stymied, losing family members), but not TOO much considering the fact that he was a kidnapper and murderer. And, yes, one could see that you had obtained a lot of knowledge about police procedure!

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  8. I remember reading the Count of Monte Christo behind my Grade 8 Math text book – so much more fun.. As for the Poisonwood Bible – that was one of the last novels I read before I headed over to non-fiction. It was a harrowing book for me. What I find interesting is when the writer allows their characters to get away with their crimes. Think of Nurse Ratched from One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. We are not allowed to have the end that should be coming. Even George Wickham in Pride and Prejudice is able to go on his merry way, with all his debts repaid. Another wonderful post, Dave – you always make me think.

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    • Thank you, Clanmother, for the kind words and interesting comment! Sneaking a compelling read — I remember doing that myself. 🙂 “The Count of Monte Cristo” is such a riveting novel that I didn’t mind its length at all. One of the highlights (low lights?) of my visits to Europe was seeing the Chateau d’If island prison off Marseille, France, that Edmond Dantes was fictionally in. And, yes, the great “The Poisonwood Bible” IS harrowing, albeit with some inspiring moments in the latter part.

      You’re right about there being many novels in which not-admirable or downright-villainous characters get away with things. Probably more realistic, in fiction or real life, sad to say. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      • You post reminded me of a book that I started and then never finished because I had borrowed it from the library and had to return it before I finished. It was called Black Count by Tom Reiss. It was the story of Alexander Dumas’s father. Now, his books make a lot of sense. Another 2020 read?!!

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        • That book must have been fascinating, Clanmother! I once read a biography of Dumas, and as I recall his part-African-descended father was an officer under Napoleon. His father’s life indeed must of had some influence on his fiction.

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  9. My most favorite comeuppance of all times takes place in “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe” by Fannie Flagg. Frank Bennett deserved what happened to him, and more! “The secret’s in the sauce.”

    Liked by 2 people

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