“Of course,” Hubby replied, nodding in complete agreement. “Another classic example of the Joss Ackland theory.”
We watched a BBC spy/murder drama some years ago. It was an excellent play, but there were only a couple of “known” names in it. One was Joss Ackland, the famous British actor. I don’t know if he’s as well known across the world, though he had a starring role in one of the Lethal Weapon films.
Which fits in with my topic rather well!
He was the villain in the play we watched, as well. There were red herrings, there was a complex and challenging plot – but we suspected him all along! After all, we reasoned, why would a famous, well-respected, stage and film actor join the cast for a small cameo role with a few throwaway lines? Why would the BBC spend their budget (and my licence money) on such a grand aristocrat of the acting world, just to fill in the background during the detective’s machinations?
And of course, we were right. In the years since, we’ve watched plenty of dramas and our theory holds well across most of them *haha*. I may well be getting better at spotting the murderer, and this theory may have no more scientific basis than always choosing the jockey with the red cap on race day (which a betting friend of mine actually does), but it’s fun for us to follow!
Now, in a book, we may play a “reverse” red herring more successfully. Our characters aren’t already known to the reader, carrying expectation of a major role, associated with fame and familiarity. We can create a distant cousin who suddenly turns out to be the long-lost sister who’s named prominently in the will, or a small, quiet, nerdy person who turns out to be the maniacal slash murderer (if we so wished *cough*). Or that person who's acting suspiciously, but then we're led to believe he's innocent, but then oh look, he’s acting suspiciously again and we’ve been fooled, he *is* the murderer after all, but then …
Well, hopefully you get my point. We’re not held back by the Joss Ackland theory. And thank goodness!
Do you have your own family “theories” when you’re watching / reading mystery? Who’s *your* Star to Suspect?