M is for Mystery

I think I’ve always loved mysteries. Mysteries, adventure stories, and horses. Of course, most books have a mystery of some sort: Will the girl get the guy? Will the hero save the girl/find the treasure/catch the bad guys? Will the “gang” escape the monster/save the princess/topple the evil monarch? Will Dorothy make it back to Kansas?

Life itself is a mystery. Will I ever get married? Get the job I want? Sell the book?

It’s the mystery, the unknown, that gives us the drive to keep trying, and gives us hope. Therefore, including a mystery in most of the stories I’ve written (both romances and mystery novels) has been natural for me.

With my latest two books, A Killer Past and Eat Crow and Die, I’ve included the element of mystery in different ways. With A Killer Past, the reader knows what Mary Harrington is keeping from others. It’s Sergeant Jack Rossini who must figure out who she really is and why she won’t tell him. In part the mystery in that book is will she succeed in keeping her past from others and will she survive the consequences of her actions?

In Eat Crow and Die, the story is in a more traditional mystery format. An event occurs that results in the deaths of two people. P.J. may not be in law enforcement, but she has a lot to lose if she doesn’t figure out who killed these two people and why. So she’s constantly alert to any clues and always coming up with theories.

In both cases the fun for me, as the writer, is figuring out how to include clues so the reader feels a part of the story and what red herrings to include so the solution isn’t too obvious. I thought the movie The Sixth Sense was great in how the clues to the ending were all there, and when the scenes were replayed, the viewer could see the clues. In both of the books coming out this summer, I didn’t know who the villain was until I reached the end. That’s when I had to go back and make sure I added those little tells so the reader wouldn’t feel cheated.

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