Saturday, June 25, 2016

So what is a cozy mystery, anyway?


 This is a relatively new term to describe a mystery story that has a focus on deduction and character development as opposed to blood and guts.   Perhaps I exaggerate.    But people who read cozy mysteries, much as they enjoy suspense, prefer that the murder take place off-camera.    The perpetrator is no hideous serial killer with unnatural appetites.   Instead he or he lives next door or works down the hall from you.   The murder is 'out of character' and came about only because of a specific set of random occurring circumstances.  The victim may be someone that few liked.

     The reader follows the storyline through the eyes of the amateur sleuth whose innate talent and natural curiousity and intuition compel them to try to solve the crime.   The clues are casually strewn yet at the conclusion it should be possible to trace back the hints and innuendos to the inevitable conclusion.

      It goes without saying that it is totally unfair for the writer to make a transitory character, one makes a brief and unmemorable appearance, as the murderer.   No, in a cozy mystery there must be several potential suspects each with the requisite motive and opportunity.   Television programs, with their budgetary constraints have been known to skimp on this, to their detriment.   After you discount the regular cast members, it quickly becomes apparent that the new arrival to town is the guilty party.

       I prefer to read . . . and write . . . cozy mysteries.   I could blame my weak stomach and that's certainly true for the movies and televisions shows I pass on due to their graphic visuals.   It also seems, at times, that graphic violence and cut action sequences are substituted for storyline and character development.   That rarely ends well.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Sometimes there's no alternative but to hang on


On first consideration, hanging on can seem only a slight improvement on giving up.   Or it is the final stage before you admit defeat.   A person is hanging on by their fingernails  or hanging on by the skin of their teeth.

It can be tempting to think of defeat as inevitable.

I prefer to think that instead of hanging on, the protagonist, character, or next door neighbour is taking a brief pause in their fight against a disease, a difficult financial situation, or a family crisis.   The pause is to gather your resources, gird your loins (as the old saying goes).   On a side note, this expression comes from the days when men and women wore long flowing robes on a daily basis.   In preparation for battle, or fleeing an invasion, the robes had to be tucked up to facilitate speedy movement either towards or away from the action.   Hanging on is the modern equivalent of girding your loins.  

Or perhaps be inspired by Winston Churchill's closing remarks in his
well-known commencement speech:

Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never--in nothing, great or small, large or petty--never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Third 'When Bees Die' Preview

Preview of third book in When Bees Die trilogy:

Chapter 1

Rafe could feel the driver's eyes boring into the back of his neck.  Maybe no one had ever before refused  the accommodation offered by the government prison, even if it didn't  look like one.  No bars, no guards apparent, and nowhere to run to.    Those placed there, without charge or trial, could presumably count on  food and a roof over their heads. 

Rafe walked on, neither dragging his feet nor sprinting away but he wouldn't give the driver--his guard-- the satisfaction of looking back.   No doubt it would be reported back to whoever had discovered his real identity that the fool kid had walked off into the desert to his certain death.   Let them think that.

What had happened to Tony?   Had Judy's interest or maybe  even infatuation with Tony protected his friend?  They'd both known what they were getting into and Tony would have to look out for himself now.   He'd always been a smooth talker;  maybe that would stand him in good stead now.   Rafe knew he was avoiding thinking about Lisa.   Even their short time together had been electric  in a way that he couldn't explain.   At least he would be able to tell his best friend, Kas--if he ever saw him again--that his sister, Lisa was doing okay and seemingly able to take care of herself.   The fact that she had been at the conference representing her supervisor from her section of the pollen farms showed that she was valuable to them.  Rafe would make himself believe that, anyway. 

He'd walked far enough now to feel comfortable taking a quick glance over his shoulder.   Not that there had been any danger before.   His driver/guard hadn't carried any weapon that Rafe had seen.   But somehow Rafe had wanted to convince the driver . . . and himself . . . that he wasn't afraid.   There was nothing to see other than the squat square building ground into the desert soil, the straight road leading away from it, back to the conference, back to Tony and Lisa.   Too bad there was no way to get a message to them.   He was on his own now, the clothes on his back and a bottle of water in his pocket.

Rafe was determined to survive;  he'd already made up his mind about that.   At nineteen, he figured he had a lot of life left.  No less important was the information he had obtained on this undercover operation, posing as technical support to two high placed executives  from Rossville.   He'd been able to download most of the files in Judy's computer as well as information that Lisa had brought.   As important were the overheard conversations and discussions.   Rafe was convinced that the crisis from the death of the bees in the state, if not engineered by the state or federal government, was quickly adopted for the purposes of a few of the elite.  There was no real attempt being made to re-introduce bee populations so that the small insects could re-commence their important work.   Why would that matter?   The rich were getting richer and the rest of the population was kept fearful and ignorant and in a state of carefully managed deprivation.   Not hungry enough for revolution, not weak enough that they were unable to work and keep the system functioning . . . sort of.   And a never-ending supply of almost free labour in the form of cowed ten year olds.   It all seemed to obvious now.

In the distance, maybe ten kilometers away, Rafe could see the slowly rotating white wings, the first in a series of stark and modern windmills marching as far as his vision.     Would it be his salvation?

                                                                           * * *

I'll be on blog hiatus for a couple of weeks while changing residence.   Catch you later!