Cast of Characters in Mysteries

20170101_140622I’m currently reading Agatha Christie’s The Pale Horse (which is excellent!) and I noticed that it begins with a bio list of all the pertinent characters. It’s the sort of thing we expect from plays, but it can be a great cheat for mystery books as well. Keeping characters straight in a mystery isn’t hard when everyone appears at more or less the same time, but when characters drift in and out of the plot, or trickle in over time, it’s too easy to unknowing mix them up. When mysteries don’t list the characters (and they usually don’t) I generally make my own cast list as I read. Sometimes, it’s overkill, but at least I can enjoy the actual mystery as the author intended instead of some weird disjointed story caused by my unintended character swapping. For the record, I didn’t include a cast list for my first book, The Hatbox Murders, because I didn’t think about it in time, but now that I’m editing The Charlatan Murders, I’ll definitely talk to my editor about including a Cast of Characters. Maybe the rest of the Elliott Bay series will feature a hand cast list.


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