When my husband was in the police academy, something they emphasized was, “Look up, look down, look all around.” That’s good advice for anyone investigating a crime, real or fictional.
Have you ever played one of those Search & Find games on the computer? Some of the objects you’re told to find will turn up in the most unlikely places. That’s true in life, too. I recently lost my car keys. Thankfully, I had an extra set of keys. I looked everywhere for those missing keys, including emptying out my purse (which would frighten a mere mortal) and all of my pockets. I’d had an appointment that day and finally decided I must have dropped them in the parking lot without realizing it.
I missed those keys because there were other things on the keychain besides my car and house key. The house key is another story. Whoever lived here before had different locks put on every door. Lots of keys for lots of doors. But I digress.
About two weeks later I put on a jacket to wear to the store, stuck my hand in the pocket and, surprise, surprise, there were the lost keys. I could have sworn I wore a different jacket the day of my appointment.
In Old Murders Never Die – A Sandi Webster Mystery, Sandi and Pete are stranded in a ghost town. To the best of their knowledge, no one had set foot in Wolf Creek for over a hundred years. Without much else to do, the two detectives started looking things over and they discovered unsolved murders from around 1880. Thus began their desire to solve the old murders. As the pair began searching houses in the town, they looked for clues, and Pete (an ex-police officer) offered Sandi the advice my husband offered me. She looked up, down and all around, and a few clues came to light after all those years.
This looks like a good hiding place.
Readers, including me, love secret rooms or passages. These things add to the suspense. So when our protagonists see something that doesn’t look quite right, they take a second look and generally, in a mystery, they’ll discover something unexpected. How about a secret room that houses a mummy? (Gin Mill Grill – A Sandi Webster Mystery)
When writing a mystery, have a little fun. Close your eyes and picture the last place someone might look for a clue, information, or a body. Of course, there are times these places need to fall short of offering help. Don’t forget red herrings. Also, don’t forget that not all mysteries include a death. The mystery might include a missing person, or as in my case, lost keys.
Speaking of keys, my grandfather had a key collection. Some of them were pretty old. I had a very old trunk that was locked and no one could figure out where the key might be. What’s the fun in calling a locksmith? I dug out Grandpa’s key collection and after trying several of them, I found one that opened the trunk. The case of the missing key? Solved, although I have a feeling that this might have been a skeleton key that would open many things.
So, whether we’re talking about fiction or real life, remember to look up, look down and look all around. If that doesn’t work, start checking pockets.
Have you ever lost something important and found it in a very unusual spot?
Until next time, take in your surroundings and look for the unusual or unexpected.
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