I thought writing mysteries would be a piece of cake. I mean, all you need is a good guy, a bad guy and an intriguing puzzle, right? Oh, and a motive and a few red herrings. And of course, some basic knowledge of the criminal justice system.
Wait, wait, wait - what was that last one? Yep, that's right. I mean, when exactly should that villain be arrested? Or that good guy who's being framed - how long, exactly, can you keep him at home before he should logically be sitting in the county jail?
Those are just a few of the unexpected questions I've run up against writing my latest mystery. Because - confession time - I'm not a criminal. I've never even gotten a parking ticket. Well, one time, I parallel parked really badly and someone left a note on my windshield that showed a cartoon Mickey Mouse flipping me off, but I don't think that counts. So when it came to writing about arraignments and bail and murder charges, I was a little lost.
I wanted a main character to have evidence against him, but not too much evidence. I wanted things to look bad - but not too bad. I was wading in pretty deep.
Luckily, I have friends and relatives who are attorneys. I have an author friend who took pity on me and sent me a Police Enforcement Code book. And I've been reading articles like "How the Wheels of Justice Turn" and doing lots of research.
It's been slowing things down a bit, but I don't mind. It's helping the plot immensely, and besides, I feel like Columbo. But you know, there's just one more thing . . .