A horrible crime occurs. Murder most foul. The police are stumped, and it looks like the criminal will get away with it. Then along comes an amateur detective who follows a set of clues, and with supreme logic, solves the mystery. Justice is served.
I want to say I write mysteries and suspense because of a deep-seeded need to see justice done in the world. I really want to say that. But it’s not true.
I love to read and write mysteries because they are clever. They invite me to use my brain. Who is the killer? Can I come to the same conclusion as the detective, at the same time, following the same trail of clues?
Traditional mystery novels are like a chess game. In writing the novel A Purse to Die For, I discovered that mysteries must be plotted carefully, strategically. It is a convention of mystery writing that the reader receives the information at the same time as the detective. Anything else is considered cheating. Clues must lead to the solving of the crime. The reader must be able to go back and see the trail, once he/she has finished reading the ending. But the ending can’t be too obvious – that’s no fun. So it’s the clever mix of laying several trails like those of a maze that intrigues me as both a writer and reader. The trick: only one leads to the fateful conclusion.
A good mystery with a bang-up ending – logical, but original – gives me a kick like no other book. I marvel at the cleverness of the author. In short mystery fiction, I devour that twist at the end. In my own fiction, you can count on an unexpected ending.
I love the wonderful delight that comes from stumping the reader…in making them say “Ah! Didn’t see that coming.” I’ve given them a challenge, and hopefully at the end, a smile. There is no greater high.
Melodie Campbell is the author of 40 short stories and eight novels, including the classic Agatha Christie-style mystery A Purse to Die For, co-authored with Cynthia St-Pierre. She has won 9 awards for short fiction, including the 2014 Derringer and the Arthur Ellis Awards.
The victim wore haute couture…
When fashionista and television celeb Gina Monroe goes home to attend the funeral of her late grandmother, the last thing she expects to encounter is murder. Who is the dead woman in the woods behind the family home? And why is she dressed in Milano designer clothes?
“Fast, funny, furious. A great read and proof once again that Canadian crimewriters are among the best in the world.” Janet Kellough, author of Sowing Poison
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