Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The What and How of Murder Mysteries

Tom Mach wrote two successful historical novels, Sissy! and All Parts Together, both of which have won rave reviews and were listed among the 150 best Kansas books in 2011.Sissy! won the J. Donald Coffin Memorial Book Award while All Parts Together was a viable entrant for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Award. He also wrote a collection of short stories entitled Stories To Enjoy which received positive reviews. Tom’s other novels include: An Innocent Murdered, Advent, and Homer the Roamer.

His poetry collection, The Uni Verse, won the Nelson Poetry Book Award. In addition to several awards for his poetry, Writer’s Digest awarded him ninth place in a field of 3,000 entrants. His website is: www.TomMach.com He also has a popular blog for writers of both prose and verse at http://tommach.tumblr.com

Now let's read about the what and how of Murder Mysteries

I’ve never thought about the question as to what attracted me to murder mysteries and especially in writing one called An Innocent Murdered. But now, after giving it some thought, I do have an answer.

My professional background is a combination of writing (having been a magazine editor and an ad copywriting instructor) and a market research analyst (where I have to dig deep to get answers as to why consumers behave as they do.) Then, of course, is the fact that I enjoy reading certain mysteries. Ever since Wilkie Collins wrote the first detective novel called The Woman in White, mysteries have been popular with people.

Authors such as Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, and Ellery Queen may have influenced me, but not as much as TV detectives such as Columbo and Monk because they are such unique characters. I loved writing a short story called “The Crossword Puzzle Murders”--one of a series of my shorter works in Stories to Enjoy where a female detective uncovers the identity of a mass murderer only minutes before she finds herself a possible victim.

 I deliberately made it tough for readers to find out the identity of the murderer of a priest in An Innocent Murdered, by tossing in some red herrings while making it seem as if the case against prime suspect is open and shut.

As to how I do my research, I have to start with a murder victim and a strong motive as to why anyone would kill him. But in An Innocent Murdered, I wanted the reader to also know more about the victim before he is murdered. I wanted readers to have invested a personal interest in him.

Otherwise, there is no emotional attachment to the victim and the victim is a mere object in the story itself In addition, I have also to research methods for this murder, Should it be a stabbing, shooting, hanging, or poisoning? I wanted to show how this person was murdered at the beginning. Many other authors start with a dead body and eventually uncover evidence to show how he was murdered.

I had to plant my clues carefully so they wouldn’t be immediately obvious to the reader and so the reader might say at the end of the story--“Aha, so that’s why he/she committed the murder.”

Finally, I had to research police procedural techniques, including interviewing methods and the process for uncovering evidence. A lot of work goes into researching a murder mystery, but the time invested in doing so is well worth it.

Book Blurb:

Father O'Fallon has been murdered, and police officer Jacinta Perez is arrested and charged. Detective Matt Gunnison, however, is not convinced and with the help of Susan, an ex-nun, he discovers a fascinating link between the priest's death and the death of a child 25 years ago.

Will Matt be able to solve both murders?
See video: http://t.co/H1siZOg


“No, I understand. Do you think Matt and I can have access to the former rectory? We’d like to look around.”

“Well, I guess not, but why in the world would you want to look around over there?”

Matt showed him his badge. “It’s part of an investigation we’re doing on the murder of that child.”

“By all means, check it out.” He opened a desk drawer and took out a key attached to a plastic tag. “Here, take this.”

Matt pocketed the key and was about to leave when the man stopped him.

“That place is haunted, you know,” the old man said.


Thank you, Tom, for stopping by. Your book sounds amazing.

Don't forget everyone to leave a comment for a $50 amazon gift certificate. Tom will choice the best comment at the end of his tour and the winner will be notified.

Best of luck,



Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting Tom today!

Karen H in NC said...

Not only do I think I will enjoy reading An Innocent Murdered, I believe I'll like those short stories you're writing. They all sound spell-binding. I like a book that I'll say 'I never say that coming' when I get to the end. IMHO, that's a sign of a well-written mystery/suspense/thriller.

Tina Gayle said...

Thanks Tom for stopping by my blog today. Sounds like you have a great story.

Best of luck,


award-winning writer said...


You did a terrific job on promoting my murder myster, An Innocent Murdered on your blog. By the way, I'm really enjoying the other guest blogs you have on your site as well. Thanks, Tina.

award-winning writer said...

Karen H.--

One of my short stories in Stories To Enjoy that you will particularly enjoy is "The Crossword Puzzle Murders" because the conclusion will leave you quaking in your shoes and I think you will say "Wow!" (My agent wanted me to convert this story into a novel...and I'm thinking about it.)

Thanks for writing. Check out my latest blog on www.TomMach.com

marybelle said...

I appreciate red herrings to hinder & then clues to help. I want to have to work to find out who the murderer is.


award-winning writer said...


Sorry in getting back to you so late but I hadn't been accessing my gmail. I hope you will do a review of AN INNOCENT MURDRED after you read it. Enjoy and have a wonderful Christmas.