As mystery lovers is there a better combination than Puzzles & Mysteries?
What fun when a plan comes together. On the first of June, the Mystery Review Crew launched a new group on Facebook, Mystery Review Crew—Book Talk. The place to talk all things bookish. The place where readers and authors can share their love of books. Our first event featured over twenty-five authors sharing their summer memories and an awesome giveaway with twenty-eight eBooks and a Kindle.
One of the fun activities turned an author’s book cover into a jigsaw puzzle with a timer. OMG—this grabbed my competitive side, a new addiction. How fast could I put one together? Some were definitely easier than others. TOM BOY by Shelley Blanton-Stroud gets my vote for the most difficult. A close second was THE CHRISTOPH CURSE by MJ Miller, and third place was THE RAVEN AND THE PIG by Lou Kemp.
As I worked my way through each book cover puzzle, I was struck by the correlation between constructing the puzzle and solving a mystery. In a puzzle, it’s finding a piece that matches another piece. Some are more obvious than others. Pieces with a straight edge are the frame. A good place to start. Once the frame is in place, then it becomes more complicated. It’s a search to find the right match for each piece in the frame, slowly moving inward. Colors and distinct designs, such as words on my cover, Murder’s Legacy, can help narrow the search. Still, the colors, number of pieces and their size definitely increase the degree of difficulty.
In a mystery, it is the clues with an added wrinkle. Unlike a puzzle, where all the pieces fit, it’s not quite that easy to solve the crime. The first question is whether the clue is legitimate. Then where and how does the clue fit?
In Not Dead, my paranormal suspense, a child is missing. Has the child wandered off, or was she abducted? This was a significant question as the answer dictated the search’s direction. The small-town police chief, a man with his own bizarre secrets, walks the backyard. “When he spotted the tricycle, with another doll sitting in the basket, he stopped. After staring at it for a few seconds, he turned his gaze to the gate that stood open. The latch was simple, lift the bar to open it. A good investigator collected details … details that could have meaning, and then again, could be so much useless trivia.”
In Au79, a Laredo homicide detective searches through boxes of confiscated documents from the business of a murdered suspect. “Her hand reached inside to pick up a stack of papers. Thumbing through them, she quickly scanned each one before she laid it aside. When she grabbed another stack, a small sticky note fell onto the table. Scribbled on it was ‘27.43 lbs how many,’ followed by several question marks.” Was the note useless trivia or a piece of the puzzle?
In my latest novel, Murder’s Legacy, Book 2 of the Tori Winters Mystery Series, Tori is overwhelmed by assorted details, the minutia. “On her tablet, she used the stylus pen to draw a circle. In the middle, Tori wrote her name. Around the outside, she added the points Parker made, tunnel, body, permit, fire, crash, new men, tablet, and Ethel.”
In Operation Navajo, a haunting past arises in the form of the code of the Navajo Code Talkers of World War II. “Scott flipped through the pages, noting most dealt with bank reports, then looked at the front sheet again. “Any idea who sent it to you, or what’s on this page?” While Scott studied the documents, Blake had stepped to the window to stare at the busy street. “I’ll answer your second question first.” His voice faded as he added, “I’m not really sure I can answer the first.” Gathering his thoughts, he said, “Know anything about the Navajo Code Talkers in World War II?”
The clues, the intrigue, and the teasers all pull the reader into the story. As an author, I love creating the mystique to drive the plot. Though I must say, at times, I’ll throw in a detail or clue, and I’m not even sure where it will lead. Will it even fit or become useless trivia, as one of my characters stated? That’s the fun of writing.
If you like puzzles and want to know more about the authors, join us at Mystery Review Crew—Book Talk on Facebook. Try your hand at how fast you can solve the cover puzzles. Though I must warn you, it could become an addiction.
I’m always “On The Hunt” for new stories. If you have a question or a comment, please let me know.
Anita Dickason is a retired police officer with a total of twenty-seven years of law enforcement experience, twenty-two with Dallas PD. She served as a patrol officer, undercover narcotics officer, advanced accident investigator, tactical officer, and first female sniper on the Dallas SWAT team.