Grace's Mosaic Moments

Sunday, October 13, 2019

New Approach to Mystery?

Found on Facebook - Children in Kentucky rejoicing!


Not long ago I ranted about a mystery where I felt the author had gone overboard on points of view, giving almost every character, even the most minor, a point of view. And yet the book was so well written that despite all those POVs, it never lost track of the protagonist (a detective). I chalked up the "too many points of view" to a newbie's mistake and looked forward to what I hoped would be fewer POVs in the next book in the series.

This week, however, I realized I had stumbled across a whole new style of mystery (or at least to me). And from an experienced author who, I suspect, was eager to try a new approach. When I read the author's first book in this new series, I merely frowned over it, not taking the time to analyze why it was a bit of a disappointment from a favorite author. When the second book in the series gave me the same vibe, however, I realized I had to figure out what was causing me problems.

Brief Review of Mystery Styles

Grace note:  In general, with the exception of # 1 below, there is more Author POV in Mysteries than in Romance.

1.  Mysteries told solely in First Person. (One POV)
     Example:  Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series

2.  Mysteries told in First & Third Person (Protagonist POV + Limited Third Person POVs)
     Examples:  James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux series, Linda Castillo's Amish series

3.  Mysteries in Limited Multiple POV (showing both Public & Law Enforcement)
     Example: the mysteries of P. D. James

4.  Cozy Mysteries in the Agatha Christie style (First Person and/or Third)

5.  Mysteries with Unlimited Multiple POV (but emphasis still on the protagonist)
     Example:  the mystery mentioned Paragraph One above.

And now the new one:

6.  A Mystery told from nearly every view point except that of the person who solves the mystery. (Yes, the protagonist has a POV, but it's relatively minor.)

Okay, first of all . . . 

1.  Kudos to the author for wanting to try something new.

2. Kudos to the author for carrying out the intricate puzzle so well.

BUT . . .

As much as I admire the challenge to an author of writing in a style that reveals the details of what each character does leading up to the obligatory murder—including red herrings, of course—and still not give away "who dun it," I found it frustrating that the protagonist stands by, an onlooker with nothing more than a few moments of POV here and there, and yet somehow, miraculously, ends up explaining what no one else can figure out. Too "in your face" for my taste. 

In other words, in most mysteries at least one murder comes early in the book, and the details of what happened are revealed after the fact. In this mystery style I'm describing as new, the murder comes much later than normal, with a whole slew of minute details about what a multitude of characters were doing prior to the murder. So many characters, in fact, that I had difficulty keeping them straight—yet another disappointment with this particular style.

So . . . is it just me? I would appreciate hearing from others, both authors and readers, about your opinion of mysteries with the "protagonist" (the one who solves the mystery) as a minor character. 

 ~ * ~

A peek at a few of Blair's "oldies but goodies" (from 15-20 years ago):

A simple "category" romance set in one of my most favorite places on earth - Cape Cod, Massachusetts. We moved there when I was four (my father's first job after getting his Masters in Education from Harvard). And even after moving away, we visited the Cape every summer. Many years later, my parents retired there. So the Cape is dear to my heart. I also lived in both Boston and New Haven, so naturally they are included in this, my very first print book (for Kensington, August 2000).

Can a homicide detective and a defense attorney, both hovering on the edge of burnout, find happiness with each other?


My only Steampunk/Alternative History - but I really enjoyed putting it together. The research took me into a whole new realm of the imagination.

Our heroine helps a sheltered young woman named Victoria assume the throne after it has been usurped by that great British hero, the Duke of Wellington.


Intended for the Young Adult market, this is a meticulously researched Medieval that should be interesting for any age (unless you only like your Historicals rife with hot sex). Many of the characters and incidents are real. (Henry II, his wife Eleanore of Aquitaine, some of their many children, including those princes of legend, Richard and John. Also, William Marshall, whom most historians consider the greatest knight who ever lived.) 

One of my all-time favorite covers
A very young heiress has an opportunity to peek into the lives of Henry II and his contentious family, while falling in love with a young squire too poor to purchase the horse and armor necessary for becoming a knight.

~ * ~

 For a link to Blair's website, click here.

For a link to The Abominable Major on Amazon,  click here.

For a link to The Abominable Major on Smashwords,  click here.  

Background information on The Abominable Major can be found on my Facebook Author Page. To read it, click here.

Thanks for stopping by,



1 comment:

  1. Mystery is one of my favorite genres, but my tastes are old-fashioned and I don't see the fuss about author POV. So I'm not sure I can answer your question. However, I can say that whether it's Dorothy Sayers or Brother Cadfael, NCIS or Rizzoli and Isles, the mystery may be paramount for a particular story, but it's the characters that carry the story along, and from book to book or show to show. So if you're hoping to produce a series instead of just a one-off, I'd recommend making the detective more than a minor character.