Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Underlayer Twist

The deeper I get into Tess Gerritsen's The Silent Girl, the more I'm convinced of her brilliance.

I call an element of this mystery and underlayer twist. There may be another name for this, but I don't know it. Just as a note, I've already tried to incorporate this into a manuscript I'm peddling to agents, a commercial mystery called OTHERS. So I'm alert to the element.

What this is, is an element of the story that, if the reader knows a reference or detail intimately, it may be a mistake... at first.

A stolen car is recovered, and the original owner's registration and insurance card is found in the glove box.

The problem is, in Massachusetts, the insurance company info is printed on the registration, so drivers don't have insurance cards like other states.


Ummm... no.

This car, though stolen out of Springfield, could be from another state.

And it could have started as a leased vehicle. They're notoriously returned with personal paperwork still in the glove box, and often sold to a new owner that way. I've seen it myself, often.

Now, this has me thinking. Really thinking. And, this may prove to be an utterly meaningless detail, later on.

Was this a possible mistake really meant to throw off a reader who knows something in-depth?

I'll give her that.

It's been done before.

And it's clever as all getout and never easy to incorporate.

And there's another one...

Every martial arts school I've been in was not quite like the one she introduces early on. I've found instructors to be terse, firm and even, and unfailingly cordial to outsiders.

I've yet to see an instructor show much more than respect--maybe some humor and openness--but not the kind of melodrama I'm reading. No fear, no nervousness. Confidence, which is a main by-product of all martial arts training.

She's got me thinking again... and it's maddening.

I can't finish this book fast enough.

Her style certainly does not seem to be canned, or conventional, or trite in any fashion, and it's because I know some crap.

I don't think I'm giving her too much credit, either. This plot is woven too well.

And one more interesting note: Perhaps this is a huge advantage of doing a book signing for readers who haven't read the book, yet.

Oh, the questions, the accusations, the protests...

The spoilers.

Amazing job, Tess.

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