NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments! and often have guest bloggers.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!


Julie Moffet . Clare London . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A. Miller . Marcelle Dube . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Crime of the Century?

In the US, my books are described as mysteries. Here in the UK, they’re crime novels. Either way, my books always have someone - either a police department or a private investigator - trying to solve a crime. Usually, but not always, this will be a murder. 

To this end, I’ve always believed that one of my most important jobs as writer is to outwit the reader. I don’t want them guessing whodunnit - or even whydunnit - on page 5. The joy for the reader, or so I’ve always thought, is trying to spot the clues and solve the puzzle before the sleuth.

I recently read The Insect Farm by Stuart Prebble. 



From the publisher: A cleverly plotted mystery of love,jealousy and suspense, Stuart Prebble's eagerly awaited new novel - The Insect Farm - will linger long in the mind of its readers. Brothers Jonathan and Roger Maguire each has an obsession. For Jonathan, it is his beautiful and talented girlfriend Harriet. For Roger, it is the elaborate universe he has constructed in a shed in their parents' garden, populated by millions of tiny insects. But Roger lives in an impenetrable world of his own and, after the mysterious death of their parents, his brother Jonathan is forced to give up his studies to take care of him. This obligation forces Jonathan to live apart from Harriet -- further fuelling his already jealous nature. Their lives are abruptly shattered by a sudden and violent death, and Jonathan is drawn into a cat-and-mouse game with the police. Does Roger know more than he is letting on? A cleverly plotted mystery with a shock ending, The Insect Farm -- Stuart Prebble's awaited new novel -- will linger long in the mind of its readers.

Jeffery Deaver said this about the book: Only rarely do a gripping psychological crime story and a literary writer’s insight and masterful style coincide. But The Insect Farm has that distinction. You’ll read this book fast, so compelling is the story, then - I guarantee - go back and read it again to savour the author’s gift for rich, lyrical writing. A tour de force.

I couldn’t agree more. This book is the best I’ve read this year. (I don’t know the author and only dowloaded the book because of a great review I read). The story lived on in my mind but, weeks after I’d finished reading it, I saw that one reviewer had described the book as “predictable”.  It was only then I realised that, yes, I too had been one step ahead and had worked out the who and the why very early on. No spoilers here, but there’s a fire and I didn’t guess the mystery surrounding that. But knowing the killer’s identity - did it spoil my enjoyment of the story? Not one iota!

So in future, I’m planning to relax a little. Maybe I don’t have to lose sleep over the red herrings and the misdirection. Maybe, just maybe, it’s not the crime of the century if the reader has her suspicions…

8 comments:

Rita said...

Thank you. I'm going to try this on your recommendation. Been looking for new things lately.

Marcelle Dubé said...

Thanks for the recommendation, Shirley. I agree--it's not always necessarily to rigorously hide the identity of the culprit. Sometimes, I just like to be along for the ride!

Shirley Wells said...

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did, Rita!

Shirley Wells said...

Yep, being along for the ride is great, Marcelle. It also takes pressure off the poor old writer and perhaps helps them to deliver a better story...

Anne Marie Becker said...

Oh, I'll have to check that book out. :)

It's such a fine balance between planting enough clues that the reader can feel like they're solving the mystery, but also keeping things a mystery so that there's a twist. Plotting that kind of book makes my brain all twisty like a pretzel. :)

jean harrington said...

As one theory goes: It's not the crime that holds a reader's attention; it's the life of the sleuth as he/she struggles to solve the crime that's the true story. Well, many theories, many stories. An interesting look at crime fiction, Shirley. Thank you.

Shirley Wells said...

Yes, do check it out Anne Marie. It's brilliant! And I'm with you on the twisty brain, LOL.

Shirley Wells said...

Yes, that's one of my favourite theories, Jean.

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