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Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel Revised and Expanded Edition, 2nd Edition by Sara Paretsky, Hallie Ephron

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Chapter 18

Writing Investigation

Clues, Red Herrings, and Misdirection

“Another clue! And this time a swell one!”

—Joe to Frank in The Tower Treasure, the first Hardy Boys mystery by Franklin W. Dixon

Investigation is the meat and potatoes of a mystery novel. The sleuth talks to people, does research, snoops around, and makes observations. Facts emerge. Maybe an eyewitness gives an account of what he saw. A wife has unexplained bruises on her face. The brother of a victim avoids eye contact with his questioner. A will leaves a millionaire’s estate to an obscure charity. A bloody knife is found in a laundry bin. A love letter is discovered tucked into last week’s newspaper.

Some of this evidence will turn out to be clues that eventually identify ...

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