Why Evil Doesn’t Work

Too many mystery-thrillers bore me by having unambiguously evil villains. As in, not just people who are willing to do bad things, but outright Evil. My least favorite trope is the pseudo-godlike serial killer who’s just now decided to spread his (always his) message across the city by murdering young girls in some way only decipherable by the cop who’s figured out which library book the killer is using.

Usually, evil is way better when there’s someone with a mission to obtain money or fame or love and is willing to cut a lot of corners to get there: evil is more plausible from a literary standpoint if there’s some kind of rationale behind it. Or better yet, when the evil person has managed to delude themself into thinking they’re doing the right thing.

But here’s another kind of evil:

ATLANTA — Two members of Da M.O.B. gang appeared in federal court today for two recently-indicted sex trafficking cases that happened in Atlanta.

The indictments, returned on Aug. 28, charge the men with pimping three 14-year-old and one 16-year-old girls in Atlanta hotels. According to the indictment, the gang members rape the girls and force them to perform commercial sex acts. They allegedly beat the girls daily in one case. The two cases are separated, with different victims and different gang members who also allegedly were involved in the trafficking.

Charged with both indictments is Fabian Terran Murray, “Shooter,” 24, of Smyrna. The first indictment charges Joshua Thomas Hill, “Cash,” 24, of Atlanta, and Clinton Saintvil, 24 of Miami, Fla.

The only thing worthwhile about a story like this from my perspective is the pimps’ nicknames: “Shooter and Cash” could be a really bad ’80s cop buddy show. These guys are just outright evil: there’s no way to work them into a story as the central antagonists because they’re the epitome of the “banality of evil”. Now, telling the story from one of the victim’s points of view might actually work, though it would be challenging to write someone so damaged that they perceived either of these thugs as being on her side.

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