Yes, I have been nibbling at that for a while now, but only now do I have a grasp on the plot. With a mystery, it's difficult to work out a plot that makes sense. You are basically creating a crime that ordinary detectives were unable to solve for whatever reasons. Those "reasons" have to be plausible. I think I laughed at the first book in the Kinsey Millhone series because its plot devices relied too much on luck (good luck is the same as bad luck).
After you create this crime that ordinary detectives weren't able to solve, then you have to lay out mistakes, believable mistakes. The assumption is that crimes are not committed perfectly, not even supernatural crimes. Therefore, there will be mistakes along the way. And these mistakes are one form of clues.
Along with mistakes, there are the deductions that the clever detective has to make with the information he/she is initially given. The best type of deductions are the ones that are initially wrong. Along the way, the detective creates an impression of the crime, which becomes refined as the tale progresses. This is, for me at least, the lure of reading and writing in this genre. And, for me again, the best types of deductions are the ones that seem the most correct, but end up the furthest from truth. Again, these deductions open the way for more clues, more information to feed the detective's mind.
That machine grinds the information and makes further deductions. The initial picture of the crime seems foolish now, things become more complex. Too simple mysteries are unsatisfying. If I can figure out who is responsible and why from the get-go, then it seems to destroy something in the novel. The tension in a mystery novel is between the detective and the reader, where the detective is either faster or slower than the reader at interpreting the information (a fiction orchestrated by the writer).
A well-executed mystery story provides a satisfying resolution.
And of course, all of the things I've mentioned do not complete the novel. A timeline is needed (unless you can keep track of events in your head really well). That timeline becomes more refined until finally, the timeline is the novel.
This isn't it though. What mystery novel would be complete without a double-cross or two? Without adding challenges to the detective (because he/she cannot be allowed to solve that crime with ease, not ever, no way).
***So, my binging is done. I've read what I needed to read and can produce again. Yes, I started my second job this week. It's very exciting; I get to watch people give each other emotional goodbyes before they board their flights.
With the job I have at the library, the job at LAX will give me a new dimension of stimuli. I am uniquely placed to be able to observe human beings at their most emotional. Truly, it is a treat to write these days.
And the tally is three jobs: 1) Writing; 2) Library; 3) LAX.
Who needs a staff?
Art by Celairen