So I had this idea for a series of blog posts last night – the A – Z of Crime Fiction, sounds fancy doesn’t it?
Sue Grafton aside from being one of my favourite authors, devised a series of novels using the alphabet in her titles. ‘A’ was of course for Alibi, B for Burglar, C for Corpse and so on. Her novels are not an in-depth treatise on crime, despite the cunning amount of detail she includes but they are well thought out good reads.
It got me thinking about all the crime and thriller books I’ve read and the full stories I’ve actually written and the amount of research that goes into them. A perfect crime novel doesn’t have to have complicated deaths to be successful, just an intriguing mystery that keeps you guessing throughout the story. That is the hook in the story, knowing that anyone of the characters could have done it.
Of course, there are novelists who have spun the plot, giving you the murderer and then letting you and the detective character learn why and how. Or other variations. Murder mysteries have been around a long time since the Medieval period, however, they achieved a rise in popularity in the late 1800’s, first with Edgar Allan Poe and then Wilkie Collins. Followed quickly by the most famous detective of them all, Sherlock Holmes penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Whatever style of mystery story you like to read, sometimes you can’t beat a classic good whodunnit.
And so, I leave you with this, the A to Z of Crime Fiction. A is for….
Death is something that I struggle with in my stories. Right now I’m writing one where I know I want to kill a character off. It’s time to say goodbye to them however I just can’t do it.
I keep thinking of all the reasons why I like them, the comments they make and their relationships. Then I think of how much better the story will be with a death in it. With my characters actually facing mortal danger instead of just empty threats. How I could delve deeper into their psyche and bring out reactions and emotions from them that they wouldn’t ordinarily have.
But there is something that stops me.
And I think it is this. I like my BAD guy. I shouldn’t. I should hate him. I have given him no redeemable features but there is just something about him that means I can’t have him become a total psychopath. Maybe I should give him a hockey mask and a chainsaw….
I have a story in the planning stage. It is a murder mystery, the old fashioned kind with a lot of misdirection and red herrings before the final page when the murderer is revealed as the person you least expected it to be.
The story starts with various characters around a small insular village being invited to a murder mystery weekend at a local manor house. As the first and staged death being investigated the first murder takes place. With no way of contacting the outside world that are caught together. In the midst of their amateur investigations a number of secrets are revealed that pitch them against one another. More deaths occur until finally the end scenes when the real culprit is revealed.
Well that’s how I want it to go. Like I said I have a problem killing people….
in my stories that is….