Monday, April 23, 2018

Writing a mystery

Writing a mystery is a bit more difficult than it might seem. The story is easy; building the tension and dropping clues in the right places means a whole lot of rewriting.

As time is available, I’m working on Harassing, the sequel to Taunting. Homeless women are being abducted in Mississippi and Louisiana, too many to be a coincidence. The obvious conclusion is that there’s a sexual predator on the loose. The only problem with that is that the women are returned unharmed, with no signs of sexual assault.

Local law enforcement in the two states get together to go over the cases, and tap Buzz Bakersfield, local miscreant doing community service, to help with clerical work. Buzz starts connecting the dots, the first step in what becomes a nationwide investigation for who and why. There seems to be a lot more to this than meets the eye, but without knowing why women are being kidnapped, there’s no way to learn who is doing it. An analyst in the New Orleans FBI office proposes a far-fetched theory, which would have been ignored if someone hadn’t tried to kill him that night. The FBI halts everything until the source of the leak can be identified. Danny Flint and the High-Profile Crimes team keep going on their own, convinced that both the leak and the murder attempt were local.

They were right, but the only person who could identify the source of the hit order is killed in a gunfight. Kidnapping patterns change significantly, to include mass abduction raids on homeless encampments, and taking citizens off the street. Danny and his team put together patterns, clues and reasonable assumptions, most of which turn out to be correct. Still, nobody has answers to the big questions, and when a state senator is kidnapped, what had been a low-profile investigation becomes a national frenzy. What do the abductors want from these women, and what is their fate? Read and find out.