Tuesday, March 6, 2012


The perfect clue!

Have you ever planted the perfect clue?

I doubt that I have or if so, I can't remember it. In fact, I don't often remember clues after a book I've read goes back on the shelves. Maybe that's a good thing. They shouldn't stand out. In fact, we're told to weave them into the thread of the story so that the reader can't detect them. At the end, when he or she goes back through the story looking for he or she missed, that will be an 'aha' moment. The clue was there, buried in plain sight.

I do have a perfect clue story but it's not one of mine. It was written by Susan Dunlap in 1990 and featured Kiernan O'Shaughnessy, a private eye in La Jolla, CA. This was the third series for Dunlap, all of which had strong female protagonists. I enjoyed reading all of her books but this series stood out. Maybe it was because Kiernan was a determined, truth-seeking character (well, they all were), so maybe it was because she had an ex-jock as her houseman and cook. He would sometimes help her with her cases at times but he was also her lover. Wow!

Anyway, I digress. I think it was the first book in the series, Pious Deception and I don't remember all the details of the plot but that clue stands out after all these years. It had to do with a blue window in the ceiling of a church (I think it was sort of a new age structure in the desert). From the outside that window wasn't blue. From the inside it was. The fact that someone had described it as blue led Kiernan to capturing the killer.

Sorry I'm vague on details. My point is, when it's done well it can be memorable and isn't that what we all want our books to be?

Have you read or written the perfect clue? If so, please tell us about it.

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

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