I thought it would be fun to have some guest writers on my blog, so I asked a couple of other authors to write me some “favorite books” posts. I know I write fantasy, but I READ a lot of different things, and my first guest is a mystery writer.
Carol Malone writes historical mysteries, frequently with a sports tie-in and a romantic subplot. And here she is to tell us how she got started. 🙂
Why I love historical mysteries.
By Carol Malone
I found a copy of Agatha Christie’s “Black Coffee,” written in 1929, at a used bookstore. I was a mystery fan and a wannabe mystery writer and wanted to study the way a master mystery writer tells a story. So, for a buck, I delved into the fascinating world of the little Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, the curious man with the egg-shaped head and the passion— no, more like obsession—with order. Can you say Obsessive Compulsive?
He liked to mention that he used his “little grey cells” to solve mysteries so complex the reader just scratches his/her head and stares wide-eyed as the intrepid little man solves the crime with aplomb.
The story of “Black Coffee,” is a tale about a scientist in the 30s England who has discovered the formula for a massive weapon to kill hundreds of thousands of people. He contacted Detective Poirot with the suspicion that someone in his family wanted to steal his formula. He needed Poirot to hand-carry it to the English version of the Defense Department. But before Poirot arrived with his trusty detecting sidekick, Hastings, the scientist was dispatched.
Little clues were dropped, and the reader is led to believe he/she knows “who-done-it” while being entertained along the way.
The reader follows the little detective with surprise and delight as he charges through his lines of questioning, and the positioning of the suspects, making the reader believe they have solved the crime before Poirot does.
I will not give away anymore of the plot or the list of suspects, but will say this is a short novel, easy to read and understand, but one that will keep the reader on his/her toes until the very end. There were so many false leads and red herrings to keep anyone entertained and fulling involved in the story. Agatha Christie can make anyone fall in love with the genre and cement the reading of mysteries a part of their browsing obsession.
Solving the crime and understanding the intricacies of the mystery is why I love this genre. Even in differing eras of time, Mrs. Christie offers the ability to the reader to act as a silent partner in the world of detecting. She puts you into the character of Poirot to feed some need in a reader’s life.
Our lives are a mystery to be discovered with systematic thoroughness as we live each day not knowing when the next “surprise” will hit us, and we’ll be left figuring out the way to proceed. We all hope we’ll be the detective and not the murderer in our own little adaptation of “Black Coffee.”
Of course, there is the revelation of what makes some people resort to murder and the slap-in-the-face discovery of the sordidness of some human nature as the major stimulant. Christie offers the reader a puzzle of the mind and at the end, the reader can’t help but feel gratified when the plot twists engages and surprise us and eventually, the mystery of the puzzle is solved. I can’t help but feel like I’ve discovered something marvelous at the end of such a book, like I’ve solved a stimulating secret. It’s a heady experience.
All of these are the things that make up historical mysteries are why I adore them so much. I can only hope to do half as well with the mysteries that I produce. I do love me a good whodunit mystery.
And that, folks, is Carol Malone, lover of Agatha Christie and other good historical mysteries, and writer in the same genre. But Christie didn’t write much romance, sad to say, and Carol likes to include some in most of her books. Don’t worry—she won’t embarrass you. All her romance is safe-for-work.
If you want to read one of her historical stories, she has a free one available for joining her newsletter. No pressure, honestly.
Or if you want one of her mysteries, they’re available where ebooks are sold.
Marty C. Lee