Friday, August 21, 2015

How are mystery books different?

Do you like a good mystery story? 

Do you know why?


Mysteries have their own rules that set them apart for other general novels. It's important to recognize their unique structure. All good fiction should be about change. Even if the change is only that the main character realizes and admits that he will not change.

 In general novels, the epiphany that leads to self-discovery or change is usually the climax of the novel. Everything that has gone before in the book leads to change at the end of the book.

In a Mystery Novel, the change comes first, with the murder, and everything flows out of it. Murder changes the orderly flow of civilized events. The sleuth sets out to mend the tear in society's fabric by uncovering, gathering and piecing together information exposing the killer.

At the end of the book, the killer is caught, removed from society and the disruptive change at the beginning is corrected, patched or paid for. Order is restored. Both the characters and the reader can heave a satisfied sigh of relief.

Agatha Christie maintained that murder was not the beginning for the story, it was the end. The history of the people and events that occurred over the years before the murder all came together until 'Zero Hour' when the murder was committed. This concept is well displayed in her novel "Toward Zero."




If you'd like more information about Christie and her books, check out the tab for the workshop, Agatha Christie's Notebooks.


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