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In Praise Of...

Crime Docs

by Ella Quittner

There’s not much I can tell you that you don’t already know when it comes to the psychological benefits of cancelling your entire day on a whim.

But there may be a chance I can still catch you before you decide how to spend your Cancelled Day. Perhaps you are currently lacing up a sneaker for a jog in the bright, unexpectedly generous winter sun. Or maybe you are reviewing text messages, memorising the details of a plan to meet a friend for a picnic, moments before you set out. It’s possible you are perusing a grocery list, considering whether you really need bay leaves to pull off Julia’s classic Beef Bourg, a project you have had on “your list” for months. 

Read this next bit carefully, then do as I say immediately: tear up the list. Text your friend to say you’ve come down with food poisoning. And for fuck’s sake, take off your sneakers. Then, open your preferred audiobook application of choice, navigate to the Explore section, and go from there into “Psychological Thrillers.” 

And then? Go to town.  

There was a time I consumed media other than pulpy thrillers replete with unreliable narrators who have undisclosed identical twins, triplets, secret sons, and step-daughters who step out of the woodwork, the shadows, and the literal shadowy woods, typically with a vengeance, and often to commit patricide. A time when I sometimes read nonfiction in hardcover, or enjoyed the latest Paris Review. I knew not of the various ways a decrepit and evil old lady could crawl into a house by widening a hole in the decking little by little over the course of several years with a thumbtack, or of how laughably easy it is to hire a man to install pin-sized cameras in really any type of ceiling. I call that time The Before.

Let me tell you, The Before absolutely sucked compared to The After. Catch me at any moment in The After, on the brink of having my mind blown by an inconceivable yet completely titillating twist fabricated in the mind of someone much more creative than I am. Knowing full well my neighbours could be not at all who they say they are, and proceeding accordingly in the shared recycling area of our building. Being able to rattle off five or six ways a person could fake her own death to start anew, at a moment’s notice. The After rules. 

Now, need you cancel your entire day to pace the length of your apartment to enjoy a twisted ride on audiobook? No, but it increases enjoyment by roughly tenfold. Here is why:

First and foremost, you can listen to the whole thing in one go. 

Then, there’s the clear fact that walks are good for the body and brain. This is well documented. However, walking outside introduces all sorts of elements that could impede your wild sojourn: noise interference from cabs, the distracting scent of a freshly pressed panini. Your apartment has way fewer distractions, assuming your roommates are off working in bedrooms, and/or your significant other has taken instruction not to bother you while you are pacing. 

Physically pacing the length of your apartment—which, if it’s like mine, will require you to turn on your heel every few seconds to pace back in the opposite direction—may have the added advantage of amping you way the hell up, as if you yourself are a trained detective, hot on the trail of the mystery, not a ne'er do well who regularly spends the day in last night’s pyjamas.

As if those weren’t reason enough, the single obvious downside of listening to a thriller on audiobook is completely neutralised: you can’t be worried that an unhinged mastermind has snuck into your home to act on his proclivities, because you have been there the whole time. You would have heard him come in!

As for how to assimilate back to your life the next day, when you must face the cold hard truth that you are not a detective solving the triple disappearance of three tragically beautiful young girls on the same day, three decades apart, I don’t have much helpful advice. And I would spend some time researching it for you—I really would, believe me—but today, I have my hands full with several pressing cases.

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