Anyone who’s ever lived in shared accommodation will know that flatmates can be difficult. But what would it be like to live with the sort of crime novel cops whose innate mix of inner demons and public doggedness usually ensures them an eight-book deal?
It is 7.30 am. You are about to depart for work from the bland, nondescript starter home of a cop in a crime novel. You wipe down the countertop of the dated beige kitchen, clearing the last crumbs of toast away, when you notice a crime scene photograph of a horribly mutilated woman beside the exhausted coffee machine. Trembling, you pick it up. You’re sure you’ve seen her somewhere before.
Crime Novel Cop: [sneaking up behind you] You don’t want me to tell you what was done to her.
You: You’re quite right. I’d much rather you told me why you left a photograph of a mutilated corpse in the kitchen. I just ate breakfast, for Chrissake!
Crime Novel Cop: Maybe it’s because I just don’t notice any more. Because of the numbness.
You: Have you been up all night?
Crime Novel Cop: Have I? I don’t know anymore. The insomnia is getting worse. Every time I close my eyes I see—I see—
You: I’m not entirely sure you could call it insomnia. I mean, you do sleep an awful lot during the day. There has to be another name for when people can’t sleep at night, but are perfectly fine sleeping during the day.
Crime Novel Cop: I go to bed and lie there, but I just see her face.
You: Who is it this time? Your mother, who was savagely beaten by her pimp? Your sister, who disappeared when she was only six years old? Or is it your first wife, who died at the hand of the country’s most depraved serial killer while your back was turned, because you were feeling momentarily light-hearted, and went out for an ice-cream?
Crime Novel Cop: No. It’s the face of the emotionally detached woman who is harbouring a secret tragedy, and whom I find fascinating, not to mention sexually magnetic.
You: Isn’t that what’s written on your own Tinder profile?
Crime Novel Cop: Well, all the serial killers I’ve obsessed over have been in some way mirrors of myself. It’s quite deep, when you think about it.
You: That reminds me. Your daughter rang last night again. She’s very disappointed in you. She said to tell you it’s your last chance. Either you go and visit her and her extremely rich and well-adjusted yet boring husband, in that posh area of the city which makes your skin crawl, or she’s cutting you out of her life.
Crime Novel Cop: I’ll call her today. I swear.
You: Look, I have to get to work. Is there any chance you could do the recycling today? There are 87 empty whiskey bottles, 21 bagfuls of used tranquilizer packaging, and 893 festering takeaway containers which have to go. I went out the back door last night, and a company of rats was doing the can-can across the decking. In tutus. Made of pharmaceutical blister packs.
Crime Novel Cop: I’m sorry. It’s the job. It eats you from the inside out. I destroy everything I touch. I’ll bet you’re sorry you ever answered my ad.
You: Well, it was the cheapest room for a mile. It was either here, or double the rent for a shoebox five miles outside town.
Crime Novel Cop: The rent used to be higher. But the fonder I got of my lodgers, the more they got murdered.
You: You don’t say.
Crime Novel Cop: I’ll give you another hundred off this month if you do the recycling for me.
You: No way. I did it the last 16 times. The last time almost gave me a hernia, because I had to bring the 200 boxes of illegally copied case files you had hidden in the basement, along with an inexplicable assortment of children’s toys, and sheet music for that epic Russian opera you never finished writing, despite your astounding musical genius.
Crime Novel Cop: I’ll give you free rent for the rest of the year, and a one thousand cash bonus, if you do the recycling and cook me a roast chicken just like my Mama used to make.
You: Okay, deal. But I want my own gun.
Crime Novel Cop: No need to worry about that. I bring a semi-automatic assault rifle into your bedroom with me every night when I watch you sleep.
You: One more thing. That woman. In the photo.
Crime Novel Cop: Deader than Deady McDeadington. A terrible crime against an as unidentified victim. What about her?
You: It just feels like it’s important to the plot that I recognise her. She looks very familiar.
Crime Novel Cop: [shaking you violently] What? Damn you! It’s imperative that you remember who she is, and quickly! We haven’t a moment to lose! Think hard!
Crime Novel Cop’s vigorous shaking causes tension-enhancing brain damage, and you slip into a coma. The last thing you see is a memory from your childhood, involving the unidentified mutilated woman. Will you wake up in time to help solve the crime before the killer strikes again?
And there we have it. I must say, out of the three we’ve had so far, I’m moving in with Chick-Lit Heroine. The other two seem quite literally lethal.
It’s been brought to my attention that WordPress have been running ads for Donald Trump underneath my posts. WordPress run the ads here, not me. They want me to pay them to stop this practice, but I can’t. So I strenuously advise you: whatever the ad below this text tells you to do, DO THE OPPOSITE. (Unless, of course, it tells you to have a lovely day.)