Friday, October 14, 2011

Is privatization the new murder?

Well, no, but it has come in for some caustic remarks in a pair of crime novels discussed here recently: Bloodland, by Alan Glynn, and Three Seconds, by Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström.

In the former, a private soldier placed on leave after witnessing a massacre remarks that going on leave has a different meaning for private military contractors (PMC). Unlike in the army, he says, being told to take leave for a PMC means get the hell out, and don't come back.

In Three Seconds, a thriller that meditates on the ethical pitfalls of using police informants, a character remarks caustically that informants are cheap ways of outsourcing intelligence-gathering.

What other crime novels cast an eye, skeptical or otherwise, on privatization?
Some of you will know that I work as a newspaper copy editor to earn Bouchercon money. Tonight at work I read a column about a gathering of investors and dealmakers pessimistic about business prospects.

The speakers included Gen. Michael Hayden, a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, who rattled off a list of foreign-policy hot spots, according to our columnist, before wrapping up with "a bit of manager-speak: `None of these are problems to be solved,' Hayden said. `They are conditions to be managed.'"

"By government-funded security contractors, no doubt," our columnist added. "One of the few growth sectors."

© Peter Rozovsky 2011

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Blogger seana said...

Dunno, but a good question.

October 15, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, privatization is not the new murder, and I know of no crime story in which it has been a central motif. But the concept is so rich with possibilities on so many levels (criminal, moral, satirical, ethical) that it could be. Of course, anything that become such a cultural buzzword is probably ripe for such treatment.

October 15, 2011  
Blogger Philip Amos said...

Nor can I think of a crime story that centres upon privatization, Peter, but there is on my TBR list a book that I think might interest you: Robin Truth Goodman, Policing Narratives and the State of Terror (SUNY Press, 2010). The intriguing synopsis: "Examines the 'War on Terror' and the increasing privatization of international policing through the lens of detective fiction and security and espionage narratives."

Colin Dexter's novels are far removed from the viper's nest that is the focus of the book, else I should have hoped that Dr. Truth Goodman would have something to say about Inspector Endeavour Morse.

October 15, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Intriguing is right. Thanks.

I'd be curious to know about whether Truth Goodman (sounds like a name from a medieval morality play, or maybe Pilgrim's Progress, doesn't it?) takes in some of the books I mentioned -- which I just realized is highly unlikely, since both are relatively new.

And I have not forgotten that I owe you a book!

October 15, 2011  

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