The Crime Readers' Association

Dangers of the void by Carol Anne Davis

26th June 2014

What do you do if you have too much time on your hands?  If you’re outgoing you find new social outlets or take on voluntary work whilst, if shy, you might prefer to take up gardening, master a new style of cooking and redecorate your home. It’s only when free time meets an unstable mind that criminality occurs.

As an introvert who needs a degree of solitude, I’m all in favour of the happy loner. But my fiction often explores what happens when unhappy loners try to reach other to others and are rebuffed. The unhappy loner doesn’t like his own company and is only alone because something in his personality repels others. He’s mean spirited or misogynistic or simply comes on too strong. Similarly, unhappy female loners are often borderline personalities who veer between elated promiscuity and intense neediness.

In my latest novel, Near Death Experience, the anti-heroine, Rose, is isolated and desperate for a meaningful one to one relationship. She’s an agency nurse who creates drama by causing symptoms in her elderly stroke patients knowing that they literally have no voice.

Rose’s circumstances briefly improve when she’s employed by Brian to care for his little boy and ailing mother in law. He’s attractive and, to all intents and purposes, widowed as his wife has disappeared whilst out jogging, possibly kidnapped by a sexual deviant who has been  prowling the area. Rose thinks she’s going to inherit the perfect family and seeks revenge on those who foil her plans.

Her condition is known as Munchausen’s-by-Proxy (thankfully shortened to MBP!) which I researched whilst writing two of my true crime books. MBP is a form of criminality rather than a mental illness and the perpetrator can put their actions on hold when there are witnesses around.

The MBP nurse either injects her tiny patient with a life threatening medication or semi-suffocates him, alerts the cardiac arrest team and helps revive the infant. She’s the heroine and is motivated to repeat the drama again and again. MBP mothers act in a similar way, hurting their infant then phoning for an ambulance or rushing to accident and emergency. Suddenly a dull day is enlivened by contact with paramedics and doctors and perhaps a longed-for visit from the baby’s dad.

If the child is `lucky’, mum contents herself with inventing symptoms when talking to hospital staff. In other instances she’ll doctor his test results by putting her own menstrual blood in his urine sample. If the child is less fortunate, their mother (or MBP nurse) will cause actual bodily harm. Fortunately this behaviour has a limited shelf life as the baby soon shows signs of terror when the mother or nurse is around.

Rose creates these medical emergencies but sometimes goes too far and inadvertently murders her latest patient. Will Brian realise the threat that she poses to his increasingly small family or is he too caught up in grieving for his missing wife?

Near Death Experience is published in ebook format by Endeavour Press and is available now from amazon.

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