Uit: Country of the Blind
“A speculative early spin on the story was that their loathing of the wealthy must have become intensified during their embittered prison terms, and that – whether entirely for their own motives or willingly assisting someone else’s – they had meted out terrible revenge upon their perceived oppressors murdering Voss, an international icon of arrogant, even decadent – and some would say thuggish – tycoonery. This seemed to be borne out the police’s revelation that while the bodyguards had been shot (once each, middle of the forehead – very quick, very clean, very efficient), Voss and his wife had been tied up and their throats cut. It hadn’t taken a pathologist to work out that Helene had been murdered in front of Voss before they dispatched him too.
It had been a particularly cruel and vicious crime, undoubtedly evidencing a heartless brutality borne of violent, furious hatred. And there had been something sickeningly demonstrative about it, thrusting its depravity before the public and forcing them to look at it. It seemed to crave their disgust, to solicit their repulsion, while at the same time its very publicness sought to rob Voss of his aura the posthumous humiliation of such a sordid and conspicuous death. Death often built legends, lent greater stature to mere men and granted them the immortality of public mythology. But murder could be insult through injury, a faultless disgrace in an irredeemable theft of dignity, which burnt the oil portrait of a proud man and replaced it in the public eye with a grainy police b/w of a withered corpse, helpless and bested no worthy foe, but some – and extension any – rogue whelp.
Nicole couldn’t help but feel a sense of déjà vu as she remembered Robert Maxwell’s watery demise, the unreality, the impropriety of death paying a visit to one of the untouchable Three Rs: Rupert, Robert and Roland. Maxwell had seemed a figure so proverbially larger-than-life, a looming presence in and behind the media, and a figure she had, young in years, grown used to assuming would always be there. Someone the everyday realities of life wouldn’t touch, whose very irritatingness seemed to guarantee he would be around forever so you’d better get used to it, like the common cold or washing powder ads.
She remembered how the radio bulletin had sounded like a joke. Rich tycoons don’t fall off boats; if they do, they turn up later, safe and sound, then write a book about it and bore us all on chat shows, telling the world how the publicity – sorry – their lives flashed before them. Even while he was missing, those uncertain hours of anxious speculation and dismal journalism, she had assumed Maxwell would be found boomingly alive, having spent the whole time enjoying the amorous advances of a short-sighted minke whale. But no, the only whale they found was the dead one floating off the Tenerife coastline, and the colossus had indeed been felled.”
Christopher Brookmyre (Glasgow, 6 september 1968)