New pop culture villains?

Rosslyn Smith
I don't follow pop culture closely enough to say if this is a trend, but in the last month I've read two recently released mystery suspense novels with surprising villains.  This may bear watching for the future as politics is certainly downstream of culture.  

I was totally surprised by John Sandford's latest Lucas Davenport novel, Silken Prey, released May, 2013.  The former newspaperman has always shown a tendency towards labeling Republicans as sexually repressed, socially out of touch businessmen and inheritors of wealth while the Democrats are the party of enlightened workers and general good guys,  Davenport, his wife and his closest proteges all vote for Democrats.   Silken Prey opens with a slimy Democrat political operative plotting after having planted a kiddie porn booby trap on the campaign office computer of an incumbent Republican US Senator locked in a close reelection battle with two weeks to go. The  Democrat opponent is a lovely billionaire heiress to a food processing company fortune (modeled after Cargill?) who from the beginning is labelled a clinical narcissist as well as potential Presidential timber.  

SPOILERS:  Sandford is far more cynical than usual- he lets the vicious bitch get away with ordering three murders to cover up her having personally paid the slimy consultant to plant the porn. She also stands by while the cops take out her head of campaign security, her lover and the person she probably would have had to murder next. She gets to keep her newly elected US Senate seat, too!  To cap it off, the porn file itself came from a Minneapolis vice cop who gets away with a slap on the wrist.  The media takes a some criticism for bias.  Their dislike of the Republican keeps them from focusing on who benefited most from all the campaign shenanigans.  What struck me most was Sandford's the entire process is corrupt take.  At the end, Lucas Davenport hints at a future day of reckoning with the female villain but his conclusion is that she will fit right in with DC culture and that the ads she can afford to buy will convince voters to continue to support her.  It won't be the system that keeps this unbridled ambition in check.   I've read most of Sandford's books and I can't recall him ever being this cynical. 

Because novelist C.J. Box often pursues libertarian themes and usually shows federal bureaucrats unsympathetically, I wasn't completely surprised about the biggest heavy in his latest Joe Pickett novel, Breaking Point, released in March, 2013.  Here the murderer is seen as a little guy who has reached the end of a rope being tanked around by a regional director of the EPA.  The plot is an adaptation of the Sackett case with some twists. The story starts with two murdered armed EPA special agents who had acted with unprecendented swiftnessthe very day the owner broke ground on the 2 acre lot the EPA had claimed jurisdiction over.

SPOILERS - A domestic manhunt with game warden Pickett acting as a guide begins and soon devolves into vigilantes in pursuit of a dead or alive reward and the use of a missile armed drone.  The person pushing the shoot first ask questions later manhunts is a regional EPA director with a false claim to minority status who uses his powers on personal vendettas: In this case it is to ruin the woman who had jilted him over two decades earlier and her husband. He is being aided by a retired IRS agent who doesn't want the view from his retirement home marred by another log cabin.  What was surprising was that five deaths and a friend's ruined family later, the story ends with the hero deciding his personal integrity demands he resign the game warden job he always loved. He simply can no longer work with other law enforcement agencies in such a system.  Joe's off the grid outlaw friend Nate (an intelligence agency "wet work" expert who walked away) has been telling him for years that a civil war is brewing,  Joe is now starting to believe it- and won't be on the wrong side.

Let me add that I will not reward gratuitous bashing of conservatives.  I purchase my C J Box novels new, Several years ago I started buying all of John Sandford's books used. I do this with many authors whose works I enjoy but whose political and social viewpoints I oppose. 

I don't follow pop culture closely enough to say if this is a trend, but in the last month I've read two recently released mystery suspense novels with surprising villains.  This may bear watching for the future as politics is certainly downstream of culture.  

I was totally surprised by John Sandford's latest Lucas Davenport novel, Silken Prey, released May, 2013.  The former newspaperman has always shown a tendency towards labeling Republicans as sexually repressed, socially out of touch businessmen and inheritors of wealth while the Democrats are the party of enlightened workers and general good guys,  Davenport, his wife and his closest proteges all vote for Democrats.   Silken Prey opens with a slimy Democrat political operative plotting after having planted a kiddie porn booby trap on the campaign office computer of an incumbent Republican US Senator locked in a close reelection battle with two weeks to go. The  Democrat opponent is a lovely billionaire heiress to a food processing company fortune (modeled after Cargill?) who from the beginning is labelled a clinical narcissist as well as potential Presidential timber.  

SPOILERS:  Sandford is far more cynical than usual- he lets the vicious bitch get away with ordering three murders to cover up her having personally paid the slimy consultant to plant the porn. She also stands by while the cops take out her head of campaign security, her lover and the person she probably would have had to murder next. She gets to keep her newly elected US Senate seat, too!  To cap it off, the porn file itself came from a Minneapolis vice cop who gets away with a slap on the wrist.  The media takes a some criticism for bias.  Their dislike of the Republican keeps them from focusing on who benefited most from all the campaign shenanigans.  What struck me most was Sandford's the entire process is corrupt take.  At the end, Lucas Davenport hints at a future day of reckoning with the female villain but his conclusion is that she will fit right in with DC culture and that the ads she can afford to buy will convince voters to continue to support her.  It won't be the system that keeps this unbridled ambition in check.   I've read most of Sandford's books and I can't recall him ever being this cynical. 

Because novelist C.J. Box often pursues libertarian themes and usually shows federal bureaucrats unsympathetically, I wasn't completely surprised about the biggest heavy in his latest Joe Pickett novel, Breaking Point, released in March, 2013.  Here the murderer is seen as a little guy who has reached the end of a rope being tanked around by a regional director of the EPA.  The plot is an adaptation of the Sackett case with some twists. The story starts with two murdered armed EPA special agents who had acted with unprecendented swiftnessthe very day the owner broke ground on the 2 acre lot the EPA had claimed jurisdiction over.

SPOILERS - A domestic manhunt with game warden Pickett acting as a guide begins and soon devolves into vigilantes in pursuit of a dead or alive reward and the use of a missile armed drone.  The person pushing the shoot first ask questions later manhunts is a regional EPA director with a false claim to minority status who uses his powers on personal vendettas: In this case it is to ruin the woman who had jilted him over two decades earlier and her husband. He is being aided by a retired IRS agent who doesn't want the view from his retirement home marred by another log cabin.  What was surprising was that five deaths and a friend's ruined family later, the story ends with the hero deciding his personal integrity demands he resign the game warden job he always loved. He simply can no longer work with other law enforcement agencies in such a system.  Joe's off the grid outlaw friend Nate (an intelligence agency "wet work" expert who walked away) has been telling him for years that a civil war is brewing,  Joe is now starting to believe it- and won't be on the wrong side.

Let me add that I will not reward gratuitous bashing of conservatives.  I purchase my C J Box novels new, Several years ago I started buying all of John Sandford's books used. I do this with many authors whose works I enjoy but whose political and social viewpoints I oppose.