Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Music and mystery!

So what do you expect when you pick up a mystery that uses a song title as its title?

Music often plays a role in the mysteries we love to read. When using it in the title, such as Michelle Spring's Standing in the Shadows, it can signal the plot, say something about the character, or give a hint at the setting. I read the title and the song takes off in my mind. From that point, it's fun to figure out how it relates.

The fifth anthology from The Ladies' Killing Circle, Bone Dance was music-themed. Each contributing author was asked to choose a song title and write a short mystery to go with it. Check the table of contents and you'll see an array of titles that inspired the mystery authors. Your next step should be to read the stories and see how they tied in. What fun it was to produce that anthology and I think all the authors enjoyed the challenge.

Peter Robinson is well-known for using song titles for his series, and his main character, Inspector Banks, loves a variety of music but mainly jazz. This tells the reader something important about the character, setting him up in the reader's mind as to what kind of guy he is and how he'll react to what's happening in his world.

A musician himself, writer Rick Blechta brings that knowledge to his mysteries, giving the reader an insight into the life of a musician, albeit, one who encounters murder. When Hell Freezes Over takes the reader into the rock musician world -- it's one of my favourites.

My character (or rather, Erika Chase's) in A Killer Read, Lizzie Turner, sings in a community choir which is busily practicing Vivaldi, Mendelessohn and Rutter for its Christmas concert. Hopefully this gives you an impression which becomes part of a well-defined character.

You'll get to know her by how she reacts to the people in her life, her thoughts about the murder, her job, her home, her interactions with the two Siamese cats in her life, what she wears and even the car she drives. You'll get to know her as do you do a friend. And, hopefully want to spend more time with her.

You'll find music in the writings of many other Canadian mystery authors, too. Who are some of your favourites?

Linda Wiken/Erika Chase
A Killer Read coming in April 2012
from Berkley Prime Crime

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