Morals can sometimes be synonymous with ethics. Morals are defined as a person’s standards of behavior or beliefs concerning what is and is not acceptable for them to do. Degeneration is defined as a decline or deterioration. Thus a degeneration in morals is simply a decline in a person’t standards of behavior or beliefs that determine what he or she will or will not do. And live with it.
In the best thriller novels there is always at least one character who is willing to do anything. Sometimes this decision is forced upon a character. Sometimes it is the nature of the character. Oftentimes readers learn of this flaw in character at a late point in the story and sometimes a morally deplete character enters the story on the first page. It’s all up to the author.
In “Gone Girl” the story opens with a missing woman and the reader is soon led to believe that this woman has been murdered. A reader has to stay with the story to learn of the complete lack of morality in the characters appearing throughout the pages of this novel. And this fact made “Gone Girl” one of the best thriller novels that I have read in a long time.
In “A Moving Screen” the story opens with a woman strapped to a table, completely paralyzed, in an abandoned house with no idea how she got that way. This woman knows that she is about to die. A horrible death. The killer is in the room with her and there is absolutely nothing that she can do. “It was certainly nothing she had dreamed for her future. She tried to cry out, but her lips would not open, her tongue would not move. Only a low, hoarse, unrecognizable grunt came through. She screamed inside.” The killer in the room with her lacks morals. He is completely morally degenerate.
The best thriller novels have a strategic portion of moral degeneration and that leads to their success.