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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

On Writing a Murder Mystery

Writing a mystery is difficult. Writing a murder mystery is doubly difficult.

A mystery must contain clues that logically lead to the ending, but that do not give it away too quickly. I had to go over my novel, The Man Without a Past, at least a dozen times, forward and backward, again and again. And when I had finished, the characters started yelling at me that I had pinned the murder on the wrong suspect, so I had to start all over and pin it on the right suspect.

Since it's a murder mystery, I had to kill off one of the characters. That, for me, is even more difficult than salting the tale with clues. I love all of my characters, even the bad guys. But somebody had to die, and then I had to identify the murderer.

The result is a tale of intrigue with twists and turns leading to a surprise ending.

Lavinia Stout never would have taken the job, if she had known that it involved murder. Even worse, it involved travel, so she had to board her beloved cat Tuffy at the veterinarian's office while she went to Denver, Colorado, to investigate. She hated leaving her mountain home, even for her daily commute to work.

She had a little storefront in San Bernardino, California, where she gave phony psychic readings. Lavinia kept her private investigator's license current so she could help clients who suspected their spouses of cheating on them, and so she could do just enough research on her clients to make her psychic readings seem genuine.

When an old flame visited her one October morning, her first instinct was to turn down the job. But since it was merely a background check on some of his employees, she thought that it would be easy. She could hand it off to her partner and bring in a little cash. She should have turned him down flat.

Just click on the banner in the right-hand column to visit my Amazon store, where you can buy The Man Without a Past and some other great books!

~~ Tessa B. Dick

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