Nearly Departed (An Eve Appel Mystery)
by Lesley A. Diehl
I am pleased to welcome author Lesley Diehl to Escape With Dollycas today!
It’s Not About Murder
By Lesley A. Diehl
Cozy mysteries usually contain one or two or perhaps more murders, but they’re about more than murder. In fact, murder isn’t really what draws us to the mystery. It’s discovering who the killer is and why the murder was committed that is the intriguing puzzle presented to the reader. But solving the mystery is about more than identifying the perpetrator.
Murder sets the stage for disrupting life as the protagonist, her close friends and family and a community experience it. Whether the person murdered is someone important to the protagonist or a victim she isn’t acquainted with, the protagonist’s involvement in finding the killer is intimate to her relationships and to how she sees herself. While the mystery behind the murder makes for the structure of the sleuthing, how the protagonist goes about discovering necessary truths behind other characters’ behaviors and their impulses and provides the story with its unique flavor.
For cozy writers and readers, solving crimes is uninteresting unless we understand and like the protagonist. If we are reading for criminal and forensic details or legal nuances, our choice would be legal thrillers or police procedurals, not cozy mysteries. Cozy mystery readers want to share sleuthing with someone who may have an interesting life and career, but not necessarily one in law. Instead, we prefer to see someone like us who is able to match wits with a killer and tease out truth from lies, the life we might choose if we had the opportunity or if someone asked for our help. Miss Marple is the prototypic cozy mystery sleuth, older, wise, brilliant and imbedded in the life of her village, just the kind of woman who dwells in my fantasy life and who beckons me to come with her as she uncovers the killer. There’s much to learn from the cozy protagonist that doesn’t require a special degree or training, just a keen mind and an unfettered curiosity, qualities the reader brings to the book.
What the protagonist provides to the community is more than the identity of the murderer. She delivers the village from disorder. Not only does the protagonist grow and change as a result of her quest, but so do the characters that play key parts in her search. Clues become more than pieces of a puzzle; they can be lies told, lies covered up, truths revealed, and new relationships established. The original order of village life before the murder is never reestablished and what the pursuit of the killer does is to make it impossible for life to go back. Instead, the journey in the book puts everyone under the microscope. The result is life reinvented, usually in a better way.
The killer may be as important to the mystery as is the protagonist. In some ways the story is directed by the killer who leaves clues to his/her identity as well as false leads implicating the innocent. While the identity of the guilty remains unknown throughout, the protagonist and the reader come to know the individual intimately through the killer’s history, interaction with the victim and relationships with others. Understanding motive is significant to both the protagonist and the reader. If the story ended not knowing who did it, the reader would be disappointed, but the reader wants more than the face of the killer. The reader along with the protagonist needs to know why the killer did it. Establishing motive is often the final piece of the puzzle.
Like all good mysteries the cozy mystery is about putting together puzzle pieces that seem in the beginning of the tale to be irrelevant. The fragments come together when the protagonist discovers the important aspects of the lives of the characters in the story, their personal histories, their needs, desires, weaknesses and obsessions, what they have hidden and what they have lied about. The cozy mystery is only tangentially about murder. It’s really a jigsaw puzzle, the pieces of which are found in the psychology of the characters who make up the story.
Thank you, Lesley, for visiting today!
About Nearly Departed
Nearly Departed (An Eve Appel Mystery)
7th in Series
Publisher: Epicenter Press (January 14, 2020)
Print Length: 180 pages
Digital ASIN: B083G9GDJY
Tired of sitting surveillance on insurance fraud, apprentice PI Eve Appel Egret gets her first big case, one where the outcome is important and personal. Eve’s best friend Madeleine has few relatives, so her Uncle Shamus is special, but someone is determined to kill him and has tried several times. Eve is certain she can identify who is after him, but this time she may have taken on more than even our self-confident Eve can handle. Coping with a growing toddler and a teenager, devoting time to the consignment shop and finding someone who can go undercover in a sexual harassment case all vie for Eve’s attention. Eve knows she cannot fail Madeleine. This is more than her favorite uncle’s life. His death would mean devastating loss for Madeleine and call into question Eve’s commitment as a friend and her ability as a PI.
About Lesley Diehl
Cows, Lesley learned as a child growing up on a farm, have a twisted sense of humor. They chased her when she went to the field to herd them in for milking, and one ate the lovely red mitten her grandmother knitted for her. Determining that agriculture wasn’t her career path, she took a job as a stripper, book cover stripper for a publishing company, that is. Now after many years as a college professor and university administrator, she has returned to the world of books and uses her country roots and her training to concoct stories designed to make people laugh in the face of murder. “A good chuckle,” says Lesley,” keeps us emotionally well-oiled long into our old age.”
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