Writing Mysteries: Layering in the Clues

One of the things that I love about writing is that I get to call reading research.  What is more fun than reading great books and actually learning from the process?

Recently, I read Suspect by Kristin Wolden Nitz.  It is a young adult mystery set in Missouri’s wine country.

I have to admit that as much as I enjoy reading mysteries, it is often something of a game.  Just how early can I pick out the murderer and what gives this person away?

Not only did I not figure it out in Kristin’s book, I didn’t even try.  I was far too caught up in the mystery.  Part of the reason that it snared me so successfully was that it was so carefully crafted.   Normally, I start trying to figure out who done it when I come across a detail that screams clue or red herring.  Kris layered in a lot of detail, using it to establish character and give a feel for place.  Because these same details were often also  clues and red herrings, they didn’t stand out.

The other thing that worked to her advantage was that, for the most part, her characters were likable.  Sure, some of them were incredibly shallow but there really wasn’t anyone that you wanted to be the bad guy (or gal).

Before too long, I’m going to have to read this one again so that I can get a better feel for how Kristin pulled this off.

Until then?  Thank you, Kristin for creating a great read that is also a great learning experience from the perspective of another writer.

–SueBE