Tag Archives: Crime fiction

POE’S DEADLY DAUGHTERS: This is about the best outline for a murder mystery I’ve ever seen

The Murder Mystery Arc

Sharon Wildwind


Murder mysteries are about the rights of the individual versus the rights of the community, the battle between good and evil, and the triumph of justice. While, in general, murder mysteries follow the traditional dramatic arc, with the protagonist’s fortunes rising, climaxing, and resolving, there are a few more twists and turns in a mystery arc.

A = a body is discovered. The book’s events are set in motion.
B = suspects, clues, and red herrings are investigated. The protagonist makes a tentative and often impersonal commitment, as in she’s a police officer. It’s her job to investigate; or, for the amateur, her best friend is in trouble, so naturally she’ll help out. Note that during this stage the protagonist’s ups and downs are shallower than they will be later.
C = a second body is found. The protagonist has failed to prevent this subsequent crime.
D = the protagonist makes a second, more personal commitment to see that justice is done. At this point her personal fortune becomes tied to the greater group good, and she makes a promise, at least to herself and perhaps to others, that she will carry through to the end no matter what the cost.
E = the clues and red herrings become more significant, with a greater impact on both the personal and public stakes.
F = the protagonist confronts a personal threat in bringing the killer to justice.
G = resolution. The protagonist doesn’t return to the original starting point — except perhaps in farces, see below. She has been irrevocably changed by the search for justice.
The above arc deals with the murder resolution. There are also one or more personal arcs that deal with the private fortunes of individual characters.  Personal arcs include romance and relationships, danger to family members, danger to the personal community, personal fortunes, and living conditions (house, salary, possessions, etc.).
The personal community is a small part of the larger community. It includes those people with whom the protagonist had day-to-day contact: friends, co-workers, and maybe a special interest that the protagonist has, such as rescuing abandoned dogs or running a store. It is terribly important to the protagonist, but isn’t important to the larger public community in the same way. For example, a police abuse scandal might enrage public opinion, but the police officer involved is concerned about how the scandal affects her partner, who is one of the people accused.
The personal stakes are played out in contrast to or in synchronization with the public stakes of righting of wrong and the triumph of justice. Mysteries from North America and England usually ground themselves in the need for justice to triumph. Mysteries by writers from other parts of the world may have a different view of justice or may reflect a society where justice is not possible or is not common.
Here are four ways that this interplay of public and private stakes can play out.
Public Stakes
Public Stakes
Private Stakes
Both the public stakes and the private stakes rise in synchronization. Justice is done and everyone lives happily—or relatively happily—until the next book in the series. Usually found in traditional (cozy) mysteries, but also quite common in many mysteries.
The public stakes and the private stakes operate in contrast. Justice is done, but the private stakes fall. The characters sacrifice personal happiness for the good of the community. When well done, can lead to an award-winning book.
Private Stakes
The private stakes rise, but justice is not done. Very rare in North American mysteries because it leaves the reader dissatisfied that the world is not put right. Not so rare in the rest of the world, particularly in countries that have a recent history of civil wars, dictatorships, or civil rights issues.
Both the public stakes and the private stakes fall. Justice is incomplete or is not achieved and there is a personal loss. Characteristic of mean streets, noir, and the suspended tragedies written in the past 15 to 20 years. Suspended tragedies often involve serial killers who escape, only to return in subsequent stories.

Get the rest of the story at POE’S DEADLY DAUGHTERS: The Murder Mystery Arc.


crime thriller addict. aspiring author. guilty as charged. | Welcome to a new friend: crime thriller girl

Crime Thriller Girl leads a double life.

By day she’s a corporate suit.

But by night (and early morning) she’s an aspiring author, avid reader, and book reviewer of all things crime thriller.

via About Crime Thriller Girl | crime thriller girl.

CTG’s Xmas Gift Ideas (part 1): Psychological Thrillers

Posted: December 12, 2013

The holiday season is fast approaching, and along with it the search for the perfect gift. But there’s no need to panic. Hardback, paperback, audiobook or eBook, whatever your preferred format, books make a fabulous gift.

So, if you’re looking for a few ideas for the crime thriller lovers in your life (or you’re dropping a few hints about what you’d like in your Christmas stocking) here’s a recap of some of my favourite reads from 2013 …

Today’s picks: Psychological Thrillers

There have been some cracking psychological thrillers out this year, a few of my favourites are:

THE NEVER LIST cover image

THE NEVER LIST cover image

The Never List by Koethi Zan

From the very first page, no, the very first paragraph, this story had me hooked. I don’t know if it was the terrifying premise – three women imprisoned in a cellar by a man they thought that they could trust; the unwavering loyalty to her friend Jennifer that the protagonist, Sarah, maintains despite the danger that in puts her in; or the three women’s determination, against all odds and all that had happened to them, to succeed in their quest for justice and uncover the shocking truth. Whatever it was, I just couldn’t put it down.

A chilling, page-turner of a psychological thriller with one hell of a twist at the end: a real must-read for all fans of the genre.

You can check out my full review here

Rush of Blood cover image

Rush of Blood cover image

Rush of Blood by Mark Billingham

Holiday friendships: sometimes they last, sometimes they don’t. But they’re usually fun while they last, and don’t usually involve murder, unlike the holiday friendships made in Mark Billingham’s standalone thriller RUSH OF BLOOD.

A cross between a police procedural and a psychological thriller, this high-tension, fast paced, character driven story is masterfully plotted and flawlessly told. It’ll also make you think twice about striking up a conversation with the people sitting round the pool or beside you on the beach next time you’re on holiday! Fabulous.

You can check out my full review here

More Books at Crime Thriller Girl

[Terry: Nicely written review!]

Never Go Back by Lee Child

When I was halfway through this book I started to slow down, I was so enjoying the story that I wanted to make it last longer. Now that, to me, is a great book. In fact, I think this might just be my new favourite of the series – and that’s a tough call to make because they are all so good.

Anyway, this book sees Reacher finally getting to Virginia. Only Major Susan Turner isn’t there and Reacher is recalled back into the army to face an old homicide charge (and another, more personal relationship-based, legal situation). But does Reacher quit? Of course not, he’s going to find out why both he and Susan Turner are being held on trumped-up charges, and ensure that justice is served.

Classic Reacher. Unputdownable.

You can check out my full review here | Clean Burn by Karen Sandler.

Clean Burn by Karen Sandler.

It is the first of a series of mysteries, featuring the wry, smart and tough San Francisco private investigator, Janelle Watkins. Here is what readers have had to say about Clean Burn:

San Francisco private investigator, Janelle Watkins. Here is what readers have had to say about Clean Burn:

Clean Burn by Karen Sandler•  ’This is a promising debut series… Clean Burn is an entertaining read. I was engrossed and I’m looking forward to Janelle’s next case.’ Book’d Out 

•“Karen Sandler’s Clean Burn is a taut, timely thriller ripped from today’s headlines. Blisteringly paced, authentically told, here is a novel that demands to be read in a single sitting. I can’t wait to strap on a side arm and join Watkins for her next case.” James RollinsNew York Times bestselling author of the Sigma series

•  “Clean Burn is a guilty pleasure. Curl up for a snappy pace, and an ex cop P.I. heroine with attitude, and a haunted past.” Lynn Hightower, author of The Piper and The Debt Collector

• “Chilling, engrossing and addicting from page one! Karen Sandler weaves a tight, tense mystery, and with Janelle Watkins gives us an honest, tough, and flawed heroine – I can’t wait to read what comes next for this exciting character.” Brenda Novak, author of When Snow Falls and When Lightning Strikes

• ‘This book is billed as ‘introducing’ Janelle  Watkins… She’s a great character – strong but physically and mentally damaged with a real hunger to protect the innocent and catch the bad guys… I’ll be interested to know what happens with Janelle in the next story – she is a fascinating character, and there’s obviously a lot more to come out about her past.’ A Normal Girl in London

via | A is for Awesome Crime Fiction.

“The best part about being a writer is you can be a #serial #killer.” | Welcome to a new friend: therussianway

Write, Write, Write, Sleep, Write

“The best part about being a writer is you can be a serial killer.” – Nicholas Thompson

What is the point?

So, I Love to Write! I really enjoy crime, and really anything related with bad human actions, and the question why do some people do bad things?. I also really enjoy Poetry. I am currently writing a crime novel, and a poem story. I love reading about other peoples stories about writing, and sharing ideas about writing. It keeps me going and something to look forward to when I get home from school or work.

I was born in Russia. Learned English. Still sometimes hard for me to understand grammar and pronunciation, but I still love to write? What? Yes, even though at times I reread my lines and say why did I write that or someone points out a mistake, and I say My way sounds right… I still manage to keep pushing through. Ultimate goal is by 23, to have published a book. Currently 18, almost 19. Four years to make it happen!

via What is the point? | Write, Write, Write, Sleep, Write.

A human being

See what you can’t see
Love what you never loved
A better human

Sounds with morning the breeze

Joggers ipod sounds coming through

Small kids with loud voices coming through

The music on my laptop

Keeping my morning together

Her eyes

There’s a girl

I don’t know her

Or her name

But I know her eyes

They always with me

I’m not in love

Just a picture for now

A nice picture

To put me to sleep

And give me lovely dreams

{Terry: His dream is to publish a book by 23!  My dream is to publish a book before i BLOODY WELL DIE!]





‘Hunted’ soon be available in the US… | Emlyn Rees

Hunted’ soon be available in the US…

Cover reveal: here’s how the first Danny Shanklin novel, ‘Hunted’, will be appearing in the US in October with HarperCollins’ hot new crime fiction imprint, Witness:

Feel like getting your order in early? Click right HERE.

via ‘Hunted’ soon be available in the US… | Emlyn Rees.

[Terry:  Oh, did I forget to mention that Emlyn is my editor at Exhibit A?  How careless of me.]

Tom Vater |

Tom Vater

The Author, Tom Vater

Tom Vater studied publishing, journalism and English literature in Oxford, before traveling around Europe, including the newly opened former communist states of Eastern Europe, as a punk rock guitar player.

He now works predominantly in South and South East Asia, where he writes in both in English and German. His work has appeared in a wide variety of publications, including The Times, The Guardian, The Far Eastern Economic Review, Discovery, The Asia Wall Street Journal, Marie Claire and Penthouse.

He is The Daily Telegraph‘s Bangkok expert.

Tom spends most of his time on the road, researching stories and fulfilling assignments. His travels have led him on foot across the Himalayas, given him the opportunity to dive with hundreds of sharks in the Philippines, to criss-cross the US in search of former CIA agents and to witness the Maha Kumbh Mela, the largest gathering of people in the world. His countless journeys have left him stranded in dozens of train stations, airports and bus terminals around South Asia, Europe and the US.On assignments, he’s joined sea gypsies and nomads, pilgrims, sex workers, serial killers, rebels and soldiers, politicians and secret agents, artists, pirates, hippies, gangsters, police men and prophets. Some of them have become close friends.

His most recent non-fiction book, Sacred Skin, is the first English language title on Thailand’s Spirit Tattoos, co-authored with Aroon Thaewchatturat, and published world wide to huge critical acclaim in 2011. Sacred Skin has been the subject of two TV documentaries and has been reviewed in more than thirty publications, including El Mundo, CNN, Die Zeit, The Wall Street Journal and Time Magazine.

Find out more about Tom at,

or at his: Facebook page

or follow Tom on Twitter @TomVater.

Exhibit A Books by Tom Vater

The Cambodian Book of the Dead July 2013

via Tom Vater |


“Private eye and former war reporter, Maier is sent to Cambodia to track down the missing heir to a Hamburg coffee empire.

His search leads him into the darkest corners of the country’s history, through the Killing Fields of the communist revolution, to the White Spider, a Nazi war criminal who reigns over an ancient Khmer temple deep in the jungle.

But the terrifying tale of mass murder that Maier uncovers is far from over. And soon Maier realises that, if he is to prevent more innocent lives from being destroyed, he will have to write the last horrific chapter himself.

The Cambodian Book of the Dead – it’s where Apocalypse Now meets The Beach

“The narrative is fast-paced and the frequent action scenes are convincingly written. The smells and sounds of Cambodia are vividly brought to life. Maier is a bold and brave hero.”
Crime Fiction Lover (The Site for Die Hard Crime & Thriller Fans)

From CNN

‘Sacred Skin’: An exploration of Thailand’s sak yant tattoo culture

The author of a new book on Thailand’s famed spirit tattoos discusses everything from women with superpowers to Culture Ministry crackdowns

By Gavin Nazareth 23 June, 2011

Sacred Skin

“Achan Thoy [pictured above] is a highly respected Dabot Ruesi, a hermit sage of Hindu origin, known as a Rishi or Yogi in India, a man with the power to apply sacred and magic tattoos to a devotee’s skin,” says ‘Sacred Skin’ author Tom Vator. “He is a sak yant tattoo master.”

Almost like a cartographic reference to ancient wisdom, the ink on the man’s body stands out in dramatic detail on the monochromatic image on the cover of “Sacred Skin: Thailand’s Spirit Tattoos.”

His skin has been transformed into a magical canvas, a manifestation of his faith, on which archaic geometrical patterns interspersed with ancient script, Buddhist iconography, deities from the Hindu pantheon, heavenly creatures and earthly animals are woven into a primeval codex designed to protect the wearer from accidents, misfortune and crime.

It is this sacred Thai tattoo tradition, sak yant, that is the focus of writer Tom Vater and his photographer wife Aroon Thaewchatturat’s new collaboration in print.

Sacred Skin is “the first book that looks comprehensively at a really important aspect of Thai culture that most foreigners know absolutely nothing about,” says Tom, who has published non-fiction books and travel guides and co-written a number of documentary screenplays for European television.

Sacred Skin“Sacred Skin” is an introduction to Thailand’s spirit tattoos, highlighting the men and women who make them come alive on their skin.Aroon, an assignment and stock photographer around Asia since 2004, has shot three photo books.

In 2005, she won an Emmy for her role as associate producer on “The Sea Gypsies,” a documentary on the plight of Thailand’s Moken sea nomads in the wake of the 2004 tsunami.

Here the two of them talk about their latest project.

CNNGoHow did the idea for this book develop?

Aroon: In 2003, we attended the annual tattoo festival at Wat Bang Phra and Tom wrote about it for the “Fortean Times.”

Tom: We kept returning and in 2009 we approached a Hong Kong-based publisher.

What is the origin of sak yant?

Tom: Most of these signs come from India. In the 4th century, India was ruled by the Buddhist Emperor Ashoka who sent missionaries out to spread the religion.

Worried, the Hindus in turn dispatched Brahmins, who were already using sacred yantra (mystical diagrams) on cloth and metal as protective symbols.

And in Southeast Asia, it got transferred from cloth to skin.

Zhou Daguan, a Chinese diplomat at the court of Angkor in the 13th century noted that the kings of Angkor had metal yantras inserted under their skin. So already 1,000 years ago this was in use in Cambodia and most likely in Thailand too.

We also found yants of tribal origin. So it’s a whole amalgamation of different religious and esoteric beliefs.

Sacred Skin“Koy is a 23 year old chef in her parents’ restaurant,” says Tom. “When her sister was abused by her husband, Koy attacked her brother in law and paralyzed him. She feels that the warrior yant and a tiger yant on her back enabled her to defend her sister.”CNNGo: Why get a sak yant?

Tom: The wearers believe that it stops bullets or knives and has miraculous effects. Perhaps, those who wear sak yant have a need to stop bullets and knives as it turns out that some are quite shady.

But in order to get the tattoos and for them to work, you have to follow a set of rules the tattoo master gives you. A lot of the advice is commonsense: to stop taking drugs, or getting drunk.

A shop-owner who wants to attract new customers will be told to be polite and friendly.

You follow these rules, your life will improve a bit, and you might think that these tattoos are really working; they are in a way. As one master said, sak yant is a powerful reminder to stay on the right path. The vast majority who have sak yant for the moment are working class, though many get done in oil to escape the stigma.

Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, all peddle certain rather unlikely truths, so, why not believe in the power of a ancient diagram?

CNNGo: How does one become a tattoo master?

Aroon: You cannot just set up a sak yant studio. You have to find a master, study and learn the mantras.

First he will allow you to tattoo junior devotees, then at a ceremony he will put a “risi” mask on you, making you a master.

Tom: It would take years to learn, not just the tattoo technique but the mantras that are chanted while it is being done.

The writing on the skin is Pali, an old Indian language, and the earliest liturgical language of Buddhism.

But when they tattoo they transliterate from Pali into Khom, an old Cambodian alphabet, so what you read is Pali but written in Khom.

To make each yant unique so that it can’t be copied, they switch the letters around. It’s like a copyright, the master’s signature.

Sacred Skin“25 year old Yod is the son of shaman and grew up in a spiritual environment,” says Tom. “He feels destined to wear sacred tattoos.” CNNGo: Your biggest challenge?

Tom: Getting these people to trust us and gaining access to them as some of them have been burned by sensationalist TV and tabloid journalism.

CNNGo: An interesting anecdote you came across?

Tom: A petite 23-year-old cook had an amazing story to tell. Her brother-in-law got involved in some shady business and she went with her sister to get him home.

At the meeting he began hitting his wife, at which point this girl bit his shoulder and tore out a part, paralysing him. She believes that her tiger yant took over, giving her superhuman strength.

Her tattoo master told her that though it had worked, she shouldn’t overestimate its power. He told us that when she got the tiger tattoo on her back, she went into a khong khuen (trance) and even four guys couldn’t hold her down.

Aroon: Her brother-in-law returned home and became a nice quiet guy.

CNNGo: What do you think about the Ministry of Culture’s decision to crack down on religious tattoos?

Tom: We assume that the ministry is largely concerned with what commercial tattoo studios do. This might not have anything to do with sak yant, as such.

That said, the ministry would be better off educating people about sacred tattoos than trying to ban all sorts of things considered un-Thai or bashing foreigners; many Thais also wear commercial religious tattoos.

It is a storm in an inkpot; perhaps the relevant authorities need to look active prior to the upcoming elections.

The movie “Hangover II” is grossly insensitive to religious sensibilities, but I don’t see the authorities complaining about it.

Sacred Skin” is available at Thailand’s English-language book stores and on online at A book launch/signing event will be held at Siam Paragon’s Kinokuniya bookstore on July 1 from 5-8 p.m.

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