From Poirot to Gamache – Stealing from the Great Mysteries
by Patrick Kelly
What could be more boring than a clean, traditional mystery? Other genres might offer the loving embrace of a fantasy romance or a chance to save the world from killer aliens. Why bother with a mystery?
Here’s my answer. Given today’s world, with its constant bad news, endless political grandstanding, and countless video streaming options, the last thing I want is a screaming zombie in my face. And given the high sales figures, millions of readers remain perfectly happy with the tried-and-true mystery formula.
Agatha Christie’s first Hercule Poirot novel––The Mysterious Affair at Styles–was published in 1920. Christie went on to write three-two more Poirot novels. Louise Penny’s seventeenth Armand Gamache novel was published last year. What makes those writers–and many others–so successful? Before writing my first Wintergreen Mystery, I examined this question and concluded that a good mystery must include three essential ingredients.
First, the story itself. The reader walks step-by-step with the detective, sorting through clues, interviewing suspects, and analyzing motives. If the writer is clever enough, the villain’s identity remains a secret until the final reveal, at which point, the reader logically concludes the solution was distinctly plausible given the clues.
Second, a fascinating central character is key to a great mystery series. With Bill O’Shea–the hero of the Wintergreen Mystery Series–I have stolen traits from both Poirot and Gamache. Like Hercule Poirot, Bill has retired from active service as a police detective but retains a keen interest in solving mysteries that fall in his path. Like Armand Gamache, Bill is a likable character inclined to give everyone a second chance. Like both Poirot and Gamache, Bill has a keen ability to discern others’ thoughts and motivations. Unlike either Poirot or Gamache, Bill is a self-educated blue-collar cop who intentionally left the city for a quiet corner of the world.
Last but not least, a successful series must pull its readers in with a captivating setting. When solving a murder with Hercule Poirot, the reader may find herself in an exotic location–traveling by train through Yugoslavia or cruising on the Nile. Armand Gamache returns time and again to the charming village of Three Pines in Quebec, Canada, where residents regularly enjoy good wine, excellent pastries, and engaging conversation. As for Bill O’Shea, he lives in the beautiful mountain resort of Wintergreen, Virginia. Set in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the terrain provides opportunities for exciting scenes on the Appalachian Trail, at towering overlooks, or on ski runs that cut through forests. Wildlife sightings are common, with comedic relief provided by the local black bear, Ms. Betsy, and the neighborhood groundhog, Mr. Chips.
Next time your social media feed spins your head around, treat yourself to a clean, traditional mystery. Don’t forget about Bill O’Shea and his friends in Wintergreen. Sure beats a screaming zombie in your face.
About The Book
It’s a short walk to the overlook but a long way down.
The rich entrepreneur Damian Susskind has recently survived a heart attack and quintuple bypass surgery. Suddenly aware of his own mortality, Damian summons his family and friends to Wintergreen to share the latest plans for his will. Unfortunately for Damian, one of those in attendance bears him malicious intent, and by the end of the day, Damian is dead.
Retired police detective Bill O’Shea is asked to help the short-staffed Wintergreen police department investigate an accidental death. Forensic evidence soon convinces Bill that this was no accident. There is plenty of motive to go around and more than a few suspects–the difficulty is tying a single killer to the crime. Will Bill and his friends solve the case, or will a Wintergreen murderer go free?
If you love beautiful mountain settings, a charming cast, and intriguing plot twists, you’re going to love the Wintergreen Mystery Series!
Clean read: no graphic violence, sex, or strong language.
About the Author
Pat Kelly was raised in Yorktown, Virginia, graduated from UVA, and left the state to pursue a corporate career. After settling in Texas, Pat married Susie, and together they raised two daughters in the awesome city of Austin. With the girls now grown and gone, Pat has pursued a lifelong love of writing stories.
Pat has written eight novels–books one and two in the Wintergreen Mystery Series, the Joe Robbins Series of five suspense thrillers, and one standalone novel of historical fiction (The Sheila Stories)
Pat is the winner of a Beverly Hills Book Award and a silver medalist for the Wishing Shelf Book Awards for adult fiction. He serves as Membership Chair of the Heart of Texas Chapter of Sisters in Crime.
Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway. Prize package includes a signed print copy mailed to the winner’s home (US or Canada) plus a $20 Amazon gift card.
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Will Bill and his new friends solve the case, or will the murder of Lou Thorpe remain a mystery forever? — The Mountain View Murder (A Wintergreen Mystery) by @pkfiction As an author what do you think makes a good story? Any story that entertains the intended audience is a good story. A writer uses…Keep reading
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