On House

Sex, Lies, and MRIs

By Donna Andrews

Patients lie. That’s the gospel according to House–right?

Wrong. According to Dr. Gregory House, “Everybody lies.”

Patients are only a subset of everybody. A particularly annoying subset, because their lies make it difficult for House to do his job. Actually, first time around I typed “for House to do their job”; divulging every bit of information that could possibly help with diagnosis is the patients’ job. How maddening it must be when they don’t cough up the information and House has to extract it any way he can, with diagnostic tests, interrogations, and . . . well, lying.

It all comes back to lying. As a mystery writer, I can relate to this. Everybody lies about something, and that’s what makes a mystery hard to solve. If the culprit were the only liar around, few mysteries could last more than a chapter or two. But it takes a lot longer to uncover the lethal lies of a killer when they’re camouflaged by all those other annoying lies that are completely irrelevant to the crime but matter profoundly to the liars.

So if anyone ever invents a really effective truth serum, the police will rejoice, but criminals and mystery writers will both be out of a job. In the meantime, mysteries are fun–and House is more a mystery than a medical show. The detectives wield stethoscopes instead of badges and guns, and the killers are often visible only under an electron microscope, but like in any mystery, you’ll find the truth  …

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