Monday, May 25, 2015
By Vicki Delany
I enjoyed Barbara’s post on the complications of crafting a plot around modern technology, cell phones in particular. In the Constable Molly Smith series, I have to always be thinking of DNA results, fingerprint analysis, cell phone records, bank warrants, and on and on, when what I really want my characters to concentrate on is what the suspect says, and how they react, what the witnesses saw, and what they only think they saw.
But now that I’m writing cozies for Obsidian and Berkley Prime Crime, I am delighting in not having to worry about most of that stuff. Because the so-called-sleuth isn’t a detective or police officer, she doesn’t have access to any forensic methods, or computer data bases. She can’t order suspects to talk to her or obtain a warrant to check bank or phone records.
Cozy mysteries are often called traditional mysteries. Somewhat of a misnomer, I think, but in this one aspect the name fits. The sleuth has none of modern policing and forensics at her disposal. All she has to go on is her observation of human beings, what she knows about people, what she can detect from what’s happening immediately around her. And gossip, of course, where would the amateur sleuth be without gossip?
Usually obtained at the bakery or coffee shop over a latte and blueberry scone.
I am enjoying writing these books a lot, and part of the reason is that I can forget about all that techo stuff, and just concentrate on the people. It’s all about the people. Sometimes people lie, or they forget, or they misrepresent, and it’s up to the amateur sleuth to parse her way through lies and misdirections. Sometimes she’s not so good at it. And that’s the fun of the writing too.
However, there’s still the sticky problem of cell phones and calling for help. Even an amateur sleuth has a cell phone. In the second book in the series, Booked for Trouble, I had to tie myself into knots when someone is kidnapped and spirited away in a car and Lucy Richardson chases them in her mother’s Mercedes SLK (and was that a fun scene to write!) Why the heck, the reader might ask, does Lucy not just phone the cops and tell them what’s going on?
You’ll have to read the book to find out how I got around that one.