Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Inverted Mystery

The Reconstruction belongs to a fiction genre called inverted mystery, also known as an inverted detective story, reverse whodunit, or “howcatchem.” In an inverted mystery, you know from the beginning who the victim is and who was involved in the crime. For the reader, the suspense comes not from trying to figure out who committed the crime, but rather from seeing what happens as people attempt to unravel the mystery and catch the bad guy. The reader might end up knowing more about the crime and the criminals than the investigators. The old television show Columbo used this technique.

For The Reconstruction, I described the crime in a prologue set five years prior to the rest of the story. This seemed appropriate because to do a forensic facial reconstruction, a forensic sculptor needs a skeleton to work on. It usually takes a while to turn a dead body into a skeleton. So you see what happens and learn a little about the victim and the perpetrators at the very beginning. Then you watch Jessica and Adam do their best to figure out the victim’s identity, learn what happened to her, and catch whoever did it.

What do you think of this approach to a mystery? Have you read other books in this genre before that you would recommend?