Every Murder Mystery Plot. Ever.

This entry is part of a series, Mystery Plotting»

Well, that’s a bit strong. However, an article in The Boston Globe purports to cover them all, in a few hundred words.

For beginners, there’s the Obvious Killer story. Yes, the butler really did do this one. Or that guy with all the sharp tools, who’s always hacking up something. You know, the guy with the far-away look in his eyes, who snarls at kittens. Yep, it’s him. He really did it. You were maybe fooled for a bit because he was too obvious? Oh really; you knew it all along.

Or there’s the Tertiary Perpetrator. Alias T. Perp. Now, T. Perp hasn’t been seen since the opening act, except in the background at the opera or something, the night of the murder. You had no reason to suspect her. But little Miss Tertiary has been one very busy grimalkin. She may have used poison, or a sharp knitting needle. But she’s the one who did it. Or maybe she’s been friendly and helpful, a true paragon. Turns out she’s leading you astray. If you get too close, though, she’ll get you too; so watch your step.

Naturally, the Master of Deduction has to make a showing. Whether Sherlock or Hercule, Nero or Jessica, they always seem to have a convenient corpse nearby. With clues aplenty. Many of them not quite all they seem. Only a true logician can cut through all the fog and catch the killer. If the killer doesn’t get them first, of course.

The final option is the Big Twist. The one thing that’s for-sure true turns out not to be. The kitten is really a skunk. The narrator’s the murderer, all along. Or there really wasn’t a murder, as the victim is still alive, somewhere. Lots of these twists get used, some to the point where they’re a bit of a joke, like the insurance scam death.

Yep, that’s pretty much got all the elements in hand. Unless you read The Patchwork Girl by Niven, and then you’ll get even more ideas for your next mystery…

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