Who’s done it? This has been one of the most important questions in literature. It makes they mystery genre one of the top five genres sold in books. It is the mad race against the bad guy or guys to figure out who is the main culprit before they can shut the hero/heroine up permanently. Keeping the reader turning the pages while guessing until the final reveal, it is a hook and a sinker all in one.
So, how does someone who is not writing a mystery genre, actually utilize this technique? In the area of paranormal, this is extra tricky. If the body is missing all its blood, it was probably the work of the friendly neighborhood vampire. If it is torn to shreds and partially eaten, let’s look at our canine friends. Death by a thousand cuts; let’s check out that local fairy/pixie den up the street. Drained of all life in a graveyard or haunted house, yep, let’s find a way to cuff that ghost.
From the get go, not only is the culprit known, but the make and model as well. But still, that reveal and twist and suspense must be there, or the author may as well hang up their computer and find a new hobby.
This has been a fun exploration for me, and is only getting more so as I am doing my rewrites. To up the game, I have moved the vampires to a place where they don’t have to scurry home at sunrise thus pointing out their nocturnal habits. They look just like humans, act just like humans, are well and truly a part of humanity. In fact, I don’t even mention the “V word” (as my husband put it) until chapter six. Up until then, the reader has only been introduced to the characters and their actions as all human. From my early Beta readers, half the fun of the story so far is trying to figure out who is a vampire and who is not before the reveal leading into Act two of the book. People are left guessing and reguessing as the book progresses, characters interact and people are murdered around them. All in the tight confines of a place they cannot escape from.
Thus creating the mystery in a non-mystery genre.