Purls and Poison (A Black Sheep & Co. Mystery)
by Anne Canadeo
WHEN GOOD CHARACTERS GO BAD
A few years back, I had the pleasure and honor of moderating a panel of mystery writers at the Tucson Festival of Books and I posed this question: “Do you ever chose a different character to be the killer while writing then the one you had first planned?”
One author – award winning, I will add — reacted with shock and even confusion. The notion was unthinkable to her. She explained how she carefully and completely planned her stories and such a change would be impossible.
I’m a huge fan of detailed outlines myself, and can barely pull out of the writing driveway without a good map. (I’ve written about this recently in a blog called, “Getting from A To B.”) I completely understood and even related to her reaction. Yet, as Steven King famously said, “The story is the Boss.” And sometimes, midstream in a manuscript, the Boss says, “The character you’re setting up is not the murderer, Anne. Yes, they liar, cheat, steal and up to some dirty business. But this other character is the real killer.”
Of course, at first I grumble and resist. I should know how to write one of these by now. But what the Boss says goes, and once I open my mind to the possibility, I not only see the logic of the critique, but also the added surprise punch.
Sometimes a few tweaks are needed and a few bolts tightened to fit my new choice in place, in regard to the big three: means, motive and opportunity. But usually, these adjustments are minor. The new choice of murderer always emerges organically from the story and is never one that will strike the reader as illogical, or pulled from thin air. I believe there must always be enough clues to the killer’s identity, so that readers can look back on and say, “It was all there. I just didn’t connect the dots.”
These second choice villains are usually likable and sympathetic characters who have been in plain sight all along, their pleasant personalities an adequate camouflage for their bad intentions. These are good characters who have gone wrong and make a great choice for the guilty party. Since I always weave in the usual red herrings, there’s a double layer of deduction necessary now in order for readers to penetrate the mystery. And a greater surprise when the “who done it” is revealed, which is always an important goal, and well worth a little extra thinking, tinkering and tossing aside an outline.
About the Book
Purls and Poison (A Black Sheep & Co. Mystery)
2nd in Series
Kensington (October 30, 2018)
Hardcover: 320 pages
Digital ASIN: B079KT54BW
When a fellow Black Sheep Knitter is suspected of poisoning her coworker, the group puts down their needles and takes up their friend’s defense . . .
Suzanne Cavanaugh has just about had it with her office rival at Prestige Properties. It’s bad enough that Liza Devereaux is constantly needling her at work, but when she shows up at one of Suzanne’s open houses to poach potential buyers, it’s the last straw. No one in the office fails to hear the two snarling at each other.
When Liza is later found dead in her office cubicle—poisoned by a diet shake—Suzanne becomes the prime suspect. It’s soon discovered, though, that Liza had double-crossed so many around town and stashed their dark secrets in her designer handbags that anyone could be the culprit.
The Black Sheep Knitters have no doubt their friend has been framed—but they need to prove it. Stirred to action, they get together to catch a sneaky killer who’s trying to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes . . .
About The Author
Anne Canadeo is the best-selling author of more than 30 books, including the Black Sheep & Company Mysteries, and as Katherine Spencer, the Cape Light and Angel Island series. She somehow manages to write a lot, despite many and much loved distractions — such as digging up the garden, hanging out with her dog, trying new recipes, drinking copious amounts of mint tea, eating chocolate and volunteer work in the community. She lives in Northport, NY, a village on the Long Island Sound very much like the settings of her stories. Anne loves to hear from readers. Answering their messages is definitely another favorite distraction in her day.
Review of Purls and Poison
Review (4 Stars): Purls and Poison was a delightfully charming mystery that had me wanting to visit Black Sheep & Company shop to knit with these lovely characters. I haven’t read the first book in the series but it was very easy to follow along and I absolutely fell in love with these quirky characters. This mystery was well-written and thoughtful, which had me guessing until the very last page. I’m not a knitter but after reading this, I want to learn because it seems like so much fun. Can’t wait to read the next book in the series.
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