We have all come across clever detectives. Miss Marple solves a crime by noticing the inconsistent use of ‘inquiry’ and ‘enquiry’ in two letters. Jonathon Creek spots a geranium and so works out how the body got into the wardrobe. But what about the authors? Even more clever. To work out the perfect crime, yet leave a tiny chink for the detective to lever open the case. To place clues in plain sight but yet fool the reader into passing them over, so that – at the end – the reader is surprised, wonders that they didn’t realise the significance of the clues, and yet is completely satisfied with the neat resolution of the mystery.
I have two murder mysteries for you! Both would be classed as ‘cosy crime’: nothing sadistic, nothing horrifying, just intriguing and dramatic plots.
The Kill Fee by Fiona Veitch Smith. A ‘Poppy Denby Investigates’ novel.
A follow-up to The Jazz Files, which I haven’t read. Fast-paced, great opening, set in London in 1920s and also in Russia from 1917 onwards, during the revolution. It is about the theft of a Faberge egg containing secrets… and then murder! It had complex, interesting characters and I really enjoyed it. Not strictly ‘Christian Fiction’ except that the heroine is a Christian – albeit one who gets so busy with tracking down a murderer that she forgets to pray.
Lord James Harrington and the Autumn Mystery by Lynn Florkiewicz
The fourth one in the Lord James Harrington mysteries series. Set in Sussex in the 1950s and very evocative of that era. Secular, but if you like cosy crime, you’ll love this. Lots of village characters, festivals, food, as well as a complex and intriguing ‘locked room’ murder. And it is a change to have a vicar who is just a normal, good, vicar and doesn’t turn out to be a sadistic atheist in secret.
What I liked about them both is the construction of the plot, the careful placing of the clues – in plain sight but in such a clever way that they would be easy to miss. I’ve had a go myself at a murder mystery. It is a challenge, but it does make you think about how the reader reads the novel, what they will notice and what they will think as they go through the text.