A recent story noted that more women are choosing careers in forensic science, a result of what's called the "CSI effect," in honor of the show where the glamorous female leads solve murders while wearing high heels and low-cut blouses.
That's all well and good, but many people are unaware of a growing crisis in our country -- the shortage of interesting serial killers.
Many Americans -- fed a steady diet of paperbacks, TV shows and movies about clever murderers -- remain under the false impression that our nation is blessed with a never-ending supply of diabolical killers.
Not so. They're actually a rather scarce commodity, especially considering how much we depend on them for our nation's entertainment.
Here's your typical serial killer book/movie/paperback murder "mystery":
JR. INVESTIGATOR: Look, I found something. It appears to be a scale model of the murder scene, including the exact location of the body and the murder weapon.
LEAD INVESTIGATOR: Yes, it's almost as if he's taunting us.
JR. INVESTIGATOR: How can you tell?
LEAD INVESTIGATOR: There's a little sign there that says, "I'm taunting you."
JR. INVESTIGATOR: Good catch! But do you think he'll strike again?
LEAD INVESTIGATOR (who either is or is trying to sound like Morgan Freeman): Yes ... he has to.
JR. INVESTIGATOR: You mean because of some horrible event that happened when he was a helpless child and now his ritual killings are a way of exacting revenge?
LEAD INVESTIGATOR: Well, perhaps, but the thing about serial killers is that they don't really need a motive, which is good because that's the only plot device we have to keep this story moving.
That's the great breakthrough that serial killers provided for the entertainment industry -- they freed writers from having to come up with reasons for the killer's actions.
In real life, though, your average killer isn't so bright or so creative.
The London Telegraph recently ran a story about a woman who was found guilty of planning a murder after trying to hire an assassin from a "hit man" Web site.
Sure, the idea of an easy and convenient hit-man site sounds like a natural, especially since the current method of advertising for and interviewing hit men is a difficult and time-consuming process.
Many people even forget to do a background check. (If you're hiring a hit man and he's reluctant to provide references, that's a bad sign, even if he seems otherwise capable and is a member of the Better Business Bureau.)
So it's not surprising this woman found the idea of going to a Web site pretty appealing -- a few quick clicks, use your credit card and -- presto! -- problem solved.
Second case in point -- a real-life headline from the MSNBC.com travel section: "Man beheads girlfriend on Greek island."
I'm not sure why this story made the travel section -- though perhaps the demand for "murder tourism" is growing -- but the story noted that the man was caught after walking through town carrying his late beloved's severed head.
In other words, this is not the kind of case where you need to bring in Sherlock Holmes, or your highly trained, high-heeled CSI investigator.
Write to Don Flood in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2008 King Features Synd., Inc.