The serial killer in literature is an interesting thing. Recently, a reader shared an opinion article that writers like myself were glamorizing serial killers. But I beg to disagree. I don’t think most fictional crime writers think about their serial killers after the book ends. And of all the literature I’ve read featuring serial killers only two stand out in my memory.
The first is Hannibal Lecter, because Anthony Hopkins brought that role to life. The book version of Hannibal is interesting, but he isn’t as appealing as the version played by Sir Anthony. And if you doubt that, watch the movie Manhunter from 1986. It is based on Harris’ first book Red Dragon. Hannibal Lecter is played by Brian Cox. I remember it so well, I had to Google it to figure out the name of it.
The second is Alton Turner Blackwood the killer in What the Night Knows by Dean Koontz. But I don’t remember him because he was scary or glamorous, I remember him because Dean Koontz had him demonically possessed into being a serial killer.
As for the serial killers in D&R (there have been more than 14 of them at this point), I don’t remember the names of any of them except the one from Ritual Dreams. Did you catch that? Even though I am currently writing Anonymous Dreams, I can’t remember the name of the killer even as I write this post. This is partly because I have a terrible memory and partly because in D&R the serial killer is a device. They exist solely so Aislinn, Gabriel, Xavier, Lucas, and Fiona can do something beyond sitting around having conversations over cups of coffee. Well, that and people enjoy reading serial killer thrillers/horror.
I think most writers are like me. Their serial killers are devices to give the story a plot, not a creation meant to make serial killers seem cool or glamorous. However, I will say if every fictional serial killer was below average intelligence and had trouble functioning in society, the serial killer thriller genre would quickly die away.