Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Murder at the ALA Conference

Murder at the ALA Conference is the title of a murder mystery I've been thinking about writing for at least 10 years. Though I've outlined plots for it dozens of times, I haven't written it yet. But now with all the murders in New Orleans recently, it seems newspaper headlines may beat me to it.

How dangerous is New Orleans? Five teenagers were murdered over the last weekend, and Mayor Ray Nagin asked the National Guard to come visit his friendly city and help restore its usual composure.

But not to worry. The murders were miles away from the ALA Conference area, and occurred at 4am, too. A Statement was released Tuesday from the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau regarding safety in New Orleans. The Cliff Notes version:

New Orleans is safe! The National Guard will help patrol desolate areas far, far away from the conference site. It's not like guardsmen carrying machine guns will ring the convention center and escort librarians to their hotels. Chill, you won't get killed, really!

And as for the recent unfortunate murders, "Police investigating the situation are following strong leads that indicate vengeance was a clear motive, stemming from an incident that occurred in early May in neighboring Jefferson Parish." Well that's a relief! Nothing to worry about. Those vengeful killers aren't likely to be gunning for librarians, are they?

No doubt this safety Statement, released just before the start of the conference (a historical first, surely?), should quell the fears of jittery librarians unnerved by the spate of violent shootings. After all, there are killings in big cities all the time, so waddaya biting your nails about?

Can you imagine what a public relations nightmare it would be--on top of everything that's happened to New Orleans lately--if a library conventioneer goes down for the count? Screaming headlines! Murder at the ALA Conference! New Orleans has a strong interest in this event coming off without any hitches. I'll bet there will be coppers around every corner of the convention center.

As for my novel, I can't give away too much in case I write it (is there really much of a market for such a mystery, I keep asking myself?), but I'm envisioning a liberal versus conservative plotline where the main characters forget about librarianship, which they never cared much about anyway, and become feverishly obsessed with politics, of which they know very little but imagine themselves experts, and spend their time at the conference plotting to destroy their fellow librarians who hold differing viewpoints.

All fiction of course.

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