Mystery Novel Resolution

by Vijay

Hello, Glen,

First of all, thank you for reading my question and providing your valuable suggestions.

I wrote around fifty thousand words of my mystery novel and planned to resolve the story in the next fifteen thousand words.

In the meantime, I read a couple of books by Agatha Christie (Murder on the Orient Express, Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Mystery of the blue train). Christie mainly uses human psychology and the method in her investigation while Sherlock Holmes uses the method of deduction which is simple in comparison.

My story resolution runs as follows:
1) The culprit and the victim stays in different places/cities.
2) The culprit takes the help of his friend, who stays in the Victim's place. The friend works as a Pizza delivery boy.
3)The culprit wears his friend's Pizza Hut uniform and goes to the Victims' apartment. He kills her
4)The sleuth catch hold of culprit's friend as friend's DNA test passes with a clue
5) The culprit's friend is forced to reveal the details and he confesses that he helped the culprit.

The above four points I'm revealing to the reader only in the final three to four chapters. Is that okay?
In the previous chapters, the sleuth interrogates the four suspects. And he interacts with the police inspector and his personal secretary during the interrogation. To provide the suspects an equal screen times, I've written some scenes which will make the reader familiar with the suspects.

Does this work? My plot doesn't permit me to apply Christie's method of solving the case (ordering the events in time). I've used the deduction method to eliminate the suspects.

Please share your thoughts and I'm sure you will help me to know if I'm correct.



Hi Vijay,

While I don't see anything "wrong" with this on the surface, so much depends on how you tell the
story that it's impossible for me to give you an answer. But here are some tips...

I assume the business with the culprit and the friend switching places is to give the culprit an apparent alibi for the murder that can be broken later?

I assume also that you have given the culprit a believable motive for the murder?

You will need to provide motives for the other suspects as well, in order to create a difficult puzzle for the detective to unravel. Often the victim in a murder mystery is at the centre of a web of dysfunctional relationships. Many people may have a good reason to kill her.

Don't dismiss psychology. Readers are less interested in straight puzzle mysteries. They are more intrigued with human emotions, personalities, and relationships.

You might be careful of devoting too many pages to interrogation. It is often more interesting to have the sleuth out and about, tracking down clues and suspects. It's a good idea to have the sleuth find the solution using combination of logic, interrogation, and physical clues. (Often a physical clue can establish who is lying.)

You need to make sure the tension builds -- either because the problem is getting thornier or because there is a growing threat. There should be a moment (the crisis or 4th driver) where all the evidence and clues have been given, but the mystery seems unsolvable. This comes right before the sleuth has a flash of insight that leads to the correct solution (final driver).

While you want to hold back the solution to the mystery until the final act, you may want to include a crucial clue early on (so the reader has time to forget about it). You want the reader to read the solution and realize the clues were there all along, but their attention was diverted elsewhere.

Best of luck.

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