Reading it Forward with my Team

Writing may seem like a solitary occupation, and it does involve long hours alone, but like most work done well, it also involves a team. In the past week I’ve finished the second draft of the fifth Mae Martin book and sent it to critique partners. I’ve also critiqued two short stories by fellow writers and am one-third of the way through another’s full-length work in progress. None of us could do it without each other.

I have two writing support networks. For some reason, in each trio I have one British partner and one Australian. My “mystical mystery sisters” Virginia King and Marion Eaton share similar readers, people who like mysteries that go off the beaten track and have an element of non-religious spirituality, so we share not only writing ideas but marketing. My other writing trio includes two authors of humorous mysteries, J.L. Simpson and Jordaina Sydney Robinson. They both have a knack for tight plotting as well as comic timing and can tell me when I’m going off track. I can’t imagine producing a book without them.

It doesn’t feel like work to take the time to read and critique their books. I’m honored to be part of these authors’ teams and would like to introduce them to my blog readers who may not already know their work. Virginia King did a guest post on this blog, and Marion Eaton joined me for an interview.

https://amberfoxxmysteries.wordpress.com/2015/04/16/virginia-king-mything-in-action

https://amberfoxxmysteries.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/interview-with-m-l-eaton-the-mysterious-marsh

Their web sites are:

Marion Eaton

http://www.marioneaton.com

Virginia King

http://www.selkiemoon.com

J.L. Simpson is part of the group blog Ladies of Mystery with me.

http://ladiesofmystery.com

Learn about her Daisy Dunlop series here

http://www.jlsimpson.com/?page_id=77

Jordaina Sydney Robinson’s first book, Beyond Dead, will come out soon, and I’ll be one of the first to spread the word. I mentioned it midway in this blog post a while back:

https://amberfoxxmysteries.wordpress.com/2015/09/17/karma-and-creativity

(Note: the giveaway in the link at the end is long over.)

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Interview with M.L. Eaton: The Mysterious Marsh

WhenTheClocksStopped_ebookM photo 002

In my post a few weeks ago on the conventions in mystery, I mentioned a fascinating book that breaks many of them, When the Clocks Stopped by M.L. Eaton. This mystical mystery takes place in the village of Rype-on Marsh in the south of England. Lawyer Hazel Dawkins is anticipating some peaceful time off before the birth of her first child. When she agrees to a little part-time work, she finds herself drawn into troubling events in the lives of her clients—and in the past. The distant past. Mysteriously, she encounters Annie, a woman who lived more than two centuries ago when Rype-on Marsh was a violent place, dominated by gangs of smugglers. With multiple layers of both time and crime, it’s an amazing and original tale. I’m happy to have Marion Eaton as my guest today. In late April we’ll be doing a ten-day sale and a three-book give-away together with a third mystical mystery author, the innovative Australian writer Virginia King. We’ve enjoyed each other’s work and are excited to introduce our readers to books we think they’ll also enjoy.

Retired from legal practice and semi-retired from holistic therapy—although she still teaches Reiki and other workshops—Marion lives close to the sea in the beautiful East Sussex countryside with a long-suffering husband, a lazy saluki and an urge to write into the small hours.

MLE: Thanks so much for your interest in my book and particularly for thinking up all these wonderful questions. I‘m really looking forward to answering them, so I’m going to dive straight in ….

AF: Your book is historical at two levels, being set in 1976 and slipping in time to 1747. To what extent is it based on real historical events?

MLE: I had to smile when I read this … because I remember many events of 1976 perfectly and it doesn’t seem like a historical period. But, of course it is!

I think perhaps it is best for me to come clean from the start. The book was originally going to be a memoir of the first year when I set up in practice on my own account as a country solicitor (attorney). I’m sure you can guess the date? 1976. I had written a few chapters— very badly and in very stilted language, because after all, I was a lawyer— when I suddenly found myself writing something far more exciting and definitely inaccurate. Not a memoir at all. I stopped and thought about it for a minute or two and then decided that I might as well enjoy myself. Who would be interested in the memoir of a country solicitor, anyway? But hidden away in my memory were a lot of interesting stories that I had encountered around that time. It seemed second nature to stitch them into the story. So the short answer is yes, the story is based on real historical events of 1976. Later, when Annie came into the story, she arrived complete with her own personality and history. It was then that I had to do considerable research to check that the background and events surrounding her in 1747 were as accurate as possible.

AF: I like the fact that the mysterious phenomena in your book happen to people who have no expectation of them, no belief that such things are possible or that time is anything but a linear march. Have you ever had even a hint of this kind of mystical experience? If not, what’s the origin of this aspect of the story?

MLE: When I was a child, my mother used to tell me stories of when she was a little girl. Many of them had to do with her experience of ghosts and other psychic phenomena. I always longed to have similar experiences but I was a sensible, pragmatic child and despite all my efforts nothing similar ever seemed to happen to me. Until, one day I was looking over a house … and the rest is in the story!

AF: Did you set out to write a murder-less mystery? There’s crime and deception in your book, but this isn’t the standard whodunit. How conscious were you of breaking some of the conventions of the mystery genre, while keeping others?

MLE: To be honest, I didn’t actually give much thought to genre when I was writing the book. As I’ve mentioned, I was writing for the sheer joy of writing and the mystery evolved naturally. I suppose that as a lawyer it was my bread-and-butter work to solve problems and difficulties so that was a good starting point. The book had to be interesting for me, as well as for my readers. But in the end I had little choice: my characters fleshed themselves out and made their own decisions about the story!

AF: Tell me about your research concerning the eighteenth century smugglers. Did you do it in the Romney Marsh area? How did you go about reconstructing the speech of the time and place? Is Annie’s role in the Owlers unusual?

MLE: I still live near Romney Marsh. This part of Britain (Kent and East Sussex) is wreathed in history and we are fortunate in having great local museums and local history societies, all of which were very helpful both in giving information and pointing me in the direction of contemporary accounts and records of smugglers.

I have always been fascinated by local and family history and my forebears have lived in this part of the world for generations, so I was brought up on tales from the past. Being close to the continent of Europe, for hundreds of years smuggling was a way of life for many people in this area. (Indeed, only yesterday, there was an item on the news about the foiling of a smuggling gang at Dover, very close to the Marsh).

I have no doubt that, then as now, it was a raw and violent occupation and there were many criminal gangs involved, but over the centuries it has become as romanticized as Robin Hood. Smugglers called themselves ‘Gentlemen Free Traders’ and at one time in the eighteenth century practically the whole local community was involved one way or the other. It was the ‘Preventatives’—Government enforcement officers—who were seen as ‘the baddies’.

It was Annie herself who spoke to me of her role in the Owlers, but from the accounts and tales of the rival gangs of smugglers it is clear that women were often involved. Although most acted as signalers, lookouts and scouts, there were others who worked alongside their men in landing smuggled goods from the boats.

On a personal note, I remember my own grandfather telling me how his father would sometimes warn him that he might hear unusual sounds in the night and if he did, to stay in his bed and put his head under the pillow. And always, the next morning there would be strange horses in the stable in place of their own horses. But beneath a stack of hay would be found a small barrel of brandy or a bolt of silk cloth. The horses would be returned a day or two later, when the other horses would also be returned to their owners.

I was lucky to have contemporary records to help me with reconstructing the speech of the time, and also to recall the local Kentish accent that surrounded me in my childhood. It’s rather sad that such accents are now fast disappearing from common use, but some of the older people in the area still speak in the same way.

AF: The village life and scenery is beautifully portrayed, with vivid details of the buildings and gardens. I’ve never been to a small English village but your book made me feels as if I had. The architecture in Rype-on-Marsh is integral to the plot. How did you work this in? I’m curious to know if there are places that served as models, or this was a blend of reality and invention.

MLE: I’m thrilled that you were able to identify with the area and town in When the Clocks Stopped. To me, as to many others who live there, Romney Marsh has its own very distinct identity—almost its own character—and there’s no doubt at all in my mind that the town on which I based Rype-in-the-Marsh also has its own personality. Both the Marsh and the town feel to me to be a huge part of the story, as well as the history that surrounds them. I did embroider details onto the fabric of the town, the most significant being the King’s Ditch, but most of the description of the town and its building and streets are accurate enough to be recognizable to local people. There really are dikes crisscrossing the Marsh as well as secret passages centering on the church.

AF: You had a lot of choices in how you could have told this story. It could have been third person, past tense all the way, in both time periods. You could have told the story in 1976 entirely as a simple crime mystery without the time slips, and there still would have been a good plot. How did you go about making all these choices, using the various voices and points of view? Why present tense for the glimpses of the past?

MLE: I didn’t seem to have a choice while I was writing. It seemed important to write in the first person, partly for immediacy and partly because of the limitations of doing so which meant that my protagonist, Hazel, was often baffled by what was going on. I felt her confusion added to the mystery.

Then, gradually, the layers of the past rose up like a miasma from the earth and I realized that there was another interweaving story begging to be told. Annie spoke to me in poetic language, closely linked as she is to Nature and the Earth. I felt I needed some way of emphasizing the differences and similarities between my two women protagonists, but wasn’t quite sure how this could be done. In the end, I simply listened to Annie’s voice—and the present tense flowed from my pen, mostly because the past seemed co-existent with the present. To me, it was as though the dramatic events of the past had stamped themselves on the fabric of time, eternally interwoven with the current time, ever present, ever available to those who listen. I hope the use of the present tense helps to convey a little of this feeling to my readers.

AF: The legal detail was intriguing. I enjoyed learning about special Will paper and the origin of the term “red tape” as well as seeing how Hazel’s work as a solicitor brings her so naturally into the center of the mystery. What’s your background in law? Is this the type of work you did? What’s the most colorful story that you can share from your legal work?

MLE: I’m glad you found the legal detail intriguing. I hoped it would be interesting and entertaining as well as helping to convey the way that Hazel has been taught to think and act.

I qualified as a solicitor in 1973 and, as I have mentioned already, set up my own practice on Romney Marsh in 1976. Law and legal practice in England and Wales have changed so much with the coming of computers and the internet that I wanted to preserve a little of its uniqueness for future generations. I also wanted to correct the current myth about lawyers generally: that they are all in it for money. I know many solicitors for whom the most important consideration is their clients’ welfare.

All I can say is that most of the incidents in the book are based on true stories.

AF: I’m pretty sure this is the only book I’ve ever read in which the protagonist is very, very pregnant. Her condition affected everything, and yet didn’t stop her from anything. This is another writing choice I’d like to know more about.

MLE: I was very pregnant when I set up my first practice—the circumstances of which were very similar to those surrounding Hazel, and so it was a ready-made opening to the story, explaining why Hazel became involved with all the events that took place around her.

As the book evolved, I thought about changing this, but by then I had found out how much the pregnancy helped in underlining the difference of my main protagonist from all the usual heroes and heroines in other legal thrillers. I wanted a character who was obviously different, very much a woman in a man’s world, who managed to solve a crime by non-contentious means. Basically she would be an ordinary person in an ordinary town to whom completely unexpected things happen. I feel the pregnancy makes her vulnerable but also gives her an edge. She is determined but protective. She has a reason to be emotional and weak sometimes. There is the frisson of double jeopardy. Above all it makes her ultra-feminine.

AF: Hazel’s dog Poppadum is an important character. Is she based on a real dog that you know? (Your bio says you live with a lazy Saluki, and Poppadum is far from lazy.)

MLE: Poppadum was the very first dog who was truly mine, an unforgettable, wonderful, unique character. She just had to be in the story and I had to use her real name. As you’ve guessed, she was a treasured member of our family. My elder daughter even learned to stand by using Poppadum’s fur to pull herself upright, and then to walk by hanging onto the dog’s tail. Poppadum and she adored each other.

AF: If one were to go to Romney Marsh as a tourist, what would you suggest they see and do?

MLE: Oh there is so much! From Roman Castles to deserted churches sitting alone in the middle of fields; from beautiful wild beaches to the cobbled streets of the ancient Cinqueport towns of Hythe, New Romney, and Rye; from small towns and villages with country pubs where you can eat before a roaring open fire in the winter, or sit surrounded by flowers in a summer garden, to long hikes with gorgeous views along the cliffs of the Saxon Shore; from the strange neighbours of a bird sanctuary, lighthouse and nuclear power station at Greatstone, to soft sandy beaches with drifts of wildflowers, to the huge amazing Victorian follies built at Littlestone; from a miniature public railway to small fishing boats drawn up on the beach and shacks offering fresh fish for sale. There are fields of flowering bulbs in spring, an airport, museums of country life, thick squat Martello towers and boats for hire on the Military Canal, built as a defence against a possible invasion by Napoleon. Ice cream and fish and chips are available everywhere to enjoy in a bracing sea breeze or in the warmth of the summer sun. But for the perfect experience there is nothing better than a full English tea served at Deblyn’s Tea Room on New Romney High Street. Real leaf tea in a teapot or freshly ground coffee, home-made scones, jam and cream, tiny savoury sandwiches, and huge slices of delicious home-made cakes, all served on bone china. Enjoy it in the bower of flowers they call a garden or the cosy beamed front room of the old house that fronts the High Street. Bliss!

AF: What’s your next project?

MLE: My next project is the third in the Mysterious Marsh Series. Its working title is ‘When the Earth Cracked’. I recently discovered a Roman Altar hidden away in the tower of a church on the edge of Romney Marsh so I am going to have to work that into a book sometime. It might be this one, but it might not …

I’ve also been writing a semi-autobiographical series of novellas (The Faraway Lands Series) requested by my daughters about my childhood travels in the 1950s—which are truly historical now. I’m pleased that the first two in the series have been popular, although they’re very different from my Mysterious Marsh Series.

And also on my to-do list:

  • A 1930s Love Story
  • A WWII adventure story
  • A Book of Angel Meditations

AF: Thank you so much for taking time for all these questions.

MLE: No, it is I who should thank you, Amber. It’s been lovely to talk to you and very kind of you to give time and space to this interview. I particularly appreciate it because I love your books and can’t wait to finish the Mae Martin series. On the other hand, I don’t want to as I’ve become very fond of her! You’ll just have to keep writing …

AF: I will. You won’t run out of my books. And from the length of your to-do list, I can happily predict I won’t run out of your books either.

M.L. Eaton’s web site: http://www.marioneaton.com

Her books are available in e-book and paperback:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DTV52PK

My post on conventions in mystery:

https://amberfoxxmysteries.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/stop-talking-and-shoot-the-guy

 

 

“Stop Talking and Shoot the Guy!”

Over the years, the rules and conventions of the mystery genre have changed, and they’re still evolving. In the process of questioning a couple of the current conventions, I looked back at some old ones: the “ten commandments” of detective fiction set out by Ronald Knox in 1929, and the Twenty Rules for Writing Detective Stories that S.S. Van Dine published in the American Magazine in September 1928. Van Dine’s list is long, so I’ve placed it at the end of this post.  Here are Knox’s commandments:

  1. The criminal must be mentioned in the early part of the story, but must not be anyone whose thoughts the reader has been allowed to know.
  2. All supernatural or preternatural agencies are ruled out as a matter of course.
  3. Not more than one secret room or passage is allowable.
  4. No hitherto undiscovered poisons may be used, nor any appliance which will need a long scientific explanation at the end.
  5. No Chinaman must figure in the story.
  6. No accident must ever help the detective, nor must he ever have an unaccountable intuition which proves to be right.
  7. The detective himself must not commit the crime.
  8. The detective is bound to declare any clues which he may discover.
  9. The “sidekick” of the detective, the Watson, must not conceal from the reader any thoughts which pass through his mind: his intelligence must be slightly, but very slightly, below that of the average reader.
  10. Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them.

I imagine you’re laughing at some of these. Number five is glaringly dated, of course, an artifact of the biases and stereotypes of Knox’s times. The rule about the sidekick’s intelligence is irrelevant as well as comical, since mystery fiction seldom includes sidekicks anymore. Most recent books lack secret passages, also, so limiting the number isn’t an issue. And in the rare book that has them, the author might legitimately use more than one. I recently enjoyed M.L. Eaton’s When the Clocks Stopped, a well-crafted book that breaks that rule as well as the supernatural one. Historically, the Romney Marsh area of England, where the story is set, had a lot of smugglers and secret passages, and this aspect of the past shows up when a village seems to be haunted. This novel breaks one of Van Dine’s rules as well—there simply must be a corpse— providing plenty of mystery without one.

Van Dine’s rule number three—there must be no love interest—hasn’t held up as well as the corpse rule has. In almost every current mystery series, the main character’s love life is woven into overall arc of the books. In the past, the protagonist might be an eccentric like Nero Wolfe or Hercule Poirot, making a love story unlikely, and focusing the plot on the puzzle of “whodunit.” Those books are great, but the genre would have stagnated if writers had kept trying to reproduce that model of a mystery.

A convention in many recent mysteries breaks both Knox’s first rule—showing the criminal’s thoughts—and Van Dine’s second: “No willful tricks or deceptions may be played on the reader other than those played legitimately by the criminal on the detective himself.” I’m referring to the anonymous bad person’s point of view. All the other characters in the book have names, faces and identities, but then the author delivers information about a crime through scenes featuring a character who is only a pronoun. I’m not a fan of this device, even though some excellent writers have done it. James D. Doss wrote some creative variations on this kind of scene by using the point of view of a prairie dog, a deer, or a mouse. With Ute mysticism and vivid descriptions of nature integrated into his plots, and his mastery of the omniscient third person, he could pull it off, and it flowed more naturally for me than the faceless criminal’s viewpoint.

A convention that seems to be almost a rule now is the confrontation-and-confession. The criminal has the protagonist at gun point, or knife point, or on the edge of a cliff at gunpoint or knife point. He could kill her. But he delays. She gets him to talk. He brags about how he executed those last little details of his crime that she couldn’t figure out. He might even tell her why he did it. This buys her time to either come up with a way to disarm him, or for her colleagues—the cavalry—to come in.

Sometimes when I read a scene like this, it this drives me crazy. Sometimes I read one and it works. As a writer, I look for ways to get around it or to make it different and more natural. Of course, since I break the corpse rule and don’t have murders in my books, there’s never going to be a killer holding Mae at gunpoint, but I do have characters who do bad things, and I have to wrap up the mystery of how and why they did them. I asked fellow mystery writers what they thought of the confession convention, and I learned that I’m not alone in trying to reshape it.

One writer said she’d found the convention so unrealistic she didn’t use it, but then her editor told her to revise the book and put it in. The editor’s logic: It’s like a ritual, a catharsis, and readers may feel short-changed without it. They want to know motives, have a climactic scene, and have closure on the mystery.

Writers want to deliver that without using the same ending over and over, and without stretching their readers’ suspension of disbelief to the point that it crashes. When do we have satisfying endings, believable suspense, a kind of mythic pattern of danger and redemption, and when do we have a cliché?

One fellow writer who calls herself a recovering lawyer said that in real life the bad guy tells his lawyer, not the sleuth who caught him.  Another mentioned that before they’re caught, criminals sometimes boast to drinking buddies and family members. Anyone who thinks he or she got away with something clever may feel the need to share it. Criminals convicted of one crime may tell cell mates about another crime that was never solved, feeling they have nothing to lose. In fiction, the bad guy (or gal) more often feels proud and safe boasting to the sleuth he thinks he’s about to kill. This urge to display one’s success is one of the motives writers have used to make this convention—sometimes—effective and believable.

 A writer who had attended several citizens’ police academies said she’d learned that criminals often confess once they realize there’s a convincing amount of evidence against them, but they seldom do so with the insight into their motives that we get in these mystery novel confessions. Many of us law-abiding folks don’t know why we do what we do. We lie to ourselves, fool ourselves, and rationalize and justify. It’s more believable when the fictional criminal does that, too, if and when he explains his motive.

My favorite response to my question about the confession-confrontation was from a writer who said she and her husband see it done all the time on TV and find themselves yelling at the screen, “Stop talking and shoot the guy! For gosh sake!”

Van Dine’s rules:

  1. The reader must have equal opportunity with the detective for solving the mystery. All clues must be plainly stated and described.
  2. No willful tricks or deceptions may be played on the reader other than those played legitimately by the criminal on the detective himself.
  3. There must be no love interest. The business in hand is to bring a criminal to the bar of justice, not to bring a lovelorn couple to the hymeneal altar.
  4. The detective himself, or one of the official investigators, should never turn out to be the culprit. This is bald trickery, on a par with offering someone a bright penny for a five-dollar gold piece. It is false pretenses.
  5. The culprit must be determined by logical deductions—not by accident or coincidence or unmotivated confession. To solve a criminal problem in this latter fashion is like sending the reader on a deliberate wild-goose chase, and then telling him, after he has failed, that you had the object of his search up your sleeve all the time. Such an author is no better than a practical joker.
  6. The detective novel must have a detective in it; and a detective is not a detective unless he detects. His function is to gather clues that will eventually lead to the person who did the dirty work in the first chapter; and if the detective does not reach his conclusions through an analysis of those clues, he has no more solved his problem than the schoolboy who gets his answer out of the back of the arithmetic.
  7. There simply must be a corpse in a detective novel, and the deader the corpse the better. No lesser crime than murder will suffice. Three hundred pages is far too much bother for a crime other than murder. After all, the reader’s trouble and expenditure of energy must be rewarded.
  8. The problem of the crime must he solved by strictly naturalistic means. Such methods for learning the truth as slate-writing, Ouija-boards, mind-reading, spiritualistic séances, crystal-gazing, and the like, are taboo. A reader has a chance when matching his wits with a rationalistic detective, but if he must compete with the world of spirits and go chasing about the fourth dimension of metaphysics, he is defeated ab initio.
  9. There must be but one detective—that is, but one protagonist of deduction—one deus ex machina. To bring the minds of three or four, or sometimes a gang of detectives to bear on a problem, is not only to disperse the interest and break the direct thread of logic, but to take an unfair advantage of the reader. If there is more than one detective the reader does not know who his coeducator is. It is like making the reader run a race with a relay team.
  10. The culprit must turn out to be a person who has played a more or less prominent part in the story—that is, a person with whom the reader is familiar and in whom he takes an interest.
  11. A servant must not be chosen by the author as the culprit. This is begging a noble question. It is a too easy solution. The culprit must be a decidedly worth-while person—one that wouldn’t ordinarily come under suspicion.
  12. There must be but one culprit, no matter how many murders are committed. The culprit may, of course, have a minor helper or co-plotter; but the entire onus must rest on one pair of shoulders: the entire indignation of the reader must be permitted to concentrate on a single black nature.
  13. Secret societies, camorras, mafias, et al., have no place in a detective story. A fascinating and truly beautiful murder is irremediably spoiled by any such wholesale culpability. To be sure, the murderer in a detective novel should be given a sporting chance; but it is going too far to grant him a secret society to fall back on. No high-class, self-respecting murderer would want such odds.
  14. The method of murder, and the means of detecting it, must be rational and scientific. That is to say, pseudo-science and purely imaginative and speculative devices are not to be tolerated in the roman policier. Once an author soars into the realm of fantasy, in the Jules Verne manner, he is outside the bounds of detective fiction, cavorting in the uncharted reaches of adventure.
  15. The truth of the problem must at all times be apparent—provided the reader is shrewd enough to see it. By this I mean that if the reader, after learning the explanation for the crime, should reread the book, he would see that the solution had, in a sense, been staring him in the face—that all the clues really pointed to the culprit—and that, if he had been as clever as the detective, he could have solved the mystery himself without going on to the final chapter. That the clever reader does often thus solve the problem goes without saying.
  16. A detective novel should contain no long descriptive passages, no literary dallying with side-issues, no subtly worked-out character analyses, no “atmospheric” preoccupations. Such matters have no vital place in a record of crime and deduction. They hold up the action and introduce issues irrelevant to the main purpose, which is to state a problem, analyze it, and bring it to a successful conclusion. To be sure, there must be a sufficient descriptiveness and character delineation to give the novel verisimilitude.
  17. A professional criminal must never be shouldered with the guilt of a crime in a detective story. Crimes by housebreakers and bandits are the province of the police departments — not of authors and brilliant amateur detectives. A really fascinating crime is one committed by a pillar of a church, or a spinster noted for her charities.
  18. A crime in a detective story must never turn out to be an accident or a suicide. To end an odyssey of sleuthing with such an anti-climax is to hoodwink the trusting and kind-hearted reader.
  19. The motives for all crimes in detective stories should be personal. International plotting and war politics belong in a different category of fiction — in secret-service tales, for instance. But a murder story must be kept gemütlich, so to speak. It must reflect the reader’s everyday experiences, and give him a certain outlet for his own repressed desires and emotions.
  20. And (to give my Credo an even score of items) I herewith list a few of the devices which no self-respecting detective story writer will now avail himself of. They have been employed too often, and are familiar to all true lovers of literary crime. To use them is a confession of the author’s ineptitude and lack of originality. (a) Determining the identity of the culprit by comparing the butt of a cigarette left at the scene of the crime with the brand smoked by a suspect. (b) The bogus spiritualistic séance to frighten the culprit into giving himself away. (c) Forged fingerprints. (d) The dummy-figure alibi. (e) The dog that does not bark and thereby reveals the fact that the intruder is familiar. (f) The final pinning of the crime on a twin, or a relative who looks exactly like the suspected, but innocent, person. (g) The hypodermic syringe and the knockout drops. (h) The commission of the murder in a locked room after the police have actually broken in. (i) The word association test for guilt. (j) The cipher, or code letter, which is eventually unraveled by the sleuth.

 Sources:

Thanks are due to my fellow members of Sisters in Crime who answered my question about the Confrontation/Confession

http://www.writingclasses.com/InformationPages/index.php/PageID/303

http://gadetection.pbworks.com/w/page/7932401/Van-Dine’s-Twenty-Rules-for-Writing-Detective-Stories