My other writing is a detective story -- not a mystery

My other writing is a detective story -- not a mystery

These posts aren’t the only writing I’m doing. I’m working on the third draft of Chapter 8 of a detective story. Its working title is “Murder in the Lake-Effect Snowstorm,” so of course I went back to work on the scenery during the polar vortex’s visits.

I refer to it as a detective story, not a mystery. “Mystery” is in the Bible’s I  Corinthians 15: 51:  “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.” There’s no solution in the end of that mystery. (Not in this world, at any rate.) Detective stories have solutions at the end — part of the world may still be a mess, depending on the type of story, but the plot ends with a solution of the problem set at the beginning.

That’s exactly why I enjoy detective stories. Everything’s all set — whether it’s Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot or Inspector Maigret in charge of the case, either he’s been victorious in what he set out to do, or (in rare, humanizing instances) he’s been defeated.

One of the greats of the detective genre, Dorothy L. Sayers, was also a great theological writer. According to various books I’ve read about her, she always referred to her stories of the cases of Lord Peter Wimsey as detective stories, and to her theological writing as mysteries.

I suppose I shock people when I talk about writing about a murder case. Even with enough “foremothers” in the field to fill several reference books, I still run into people who don’t believe that a mild-mannered former editor like me writes such a “scary” story.

But I’m writing about a scared college student’s victory over her fear in order to help a city cop solve her roommate’s murder. I’m not focusing on the crime itself; I am focusing on the logic of the investigation. I like logic. I need more of it. As Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had Sherlock Holmes put it, “Crime is common. Logic is rare. Therefore it is upon the logic, and not upon the crime, that you should dwell.”

Detective stories have their various endings, from the “I’ve called you here” to “Here’s what happened to the victim’s family” and “Here’s where the treasure wound up.” Since my story’s victim is a violinist, I’m going to need to show what happens when her killer is caught — but I will also need to show what happens to her violin in the end, since I’ve set up that she was just borrowing it and (spoiler alert) it’s part of the motive for the murder.

It’s no mystery how to find more of my posts — because the solution is right here! Type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

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  • The plot thickens.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Hmmm. I hope it does!

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    BTW, Margaret, since you like logic you might enjoy the Sherlock Holmes pastiches written by British physicist Colin Bruce: "The Einstein Paradox, And Other Science Mysteries Solved by Sherlock Holmes" and "Conned Again, Watson". The cases in the first explain modern physics, while the second---according to Discover Magazine---has Holmes "thwarting criminals and con men with the aid of statistics and game theory".

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    They sound delightful. Thank you very much!

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