Realism would be 1,000 pages long and crushingly dull, admits top writer
The authors disliked the vogue for graphic violence, deploring publisher pressure to make books "gritty" (although Wilson said she was "only squeamish about violence to dogs"); and Billingham denounced "the forensic detail in Kathy Reichs, about things like the difference between cat hair and dog hair. I don't care!"
As they were broadly agreed that their novels were artificial constructions, dismissing other writers' work as wildly unrealistic might seem a tricky manoeuvre; but they also had no difficulty in rubbishing corpse-filled TV series and novels lazily dependent on brainy serial killers. The body counts can be "completely ludicrous", and these bogeymen "let us off the hook, when in reality a killer like Fred West is next door," argued Billingham.
Questions from the audience elicited a Billingham bombshell in which he named Jack the Ripper (or, at any rate, the person visitors to the Black Museum, the police's private collection, are told committed the crimes) as Aaron Kosminski; and ended with the slain bodies of Stieg Larsson, Stephen King and Colin Dexter piling up next to Reichs's, as panellists gleefully murdered their reputations – an awkwardly bloody denouement for an event complementing a celebration of crime-writing.