This past month I read Perception by Kim Harrington. For those of you who haven’t heard about Perception, it’s the follow up to Harrington’s debut last year, Clarity. I truly enjoyed both books. But, I don’t just enjoy books, I study them. I try to find why each of them stands out for me. And for me, Clarity and Perception stand out as perfect mysteries. Harrington does such an amazing job of giving out little bread crumbs, adding to the mystery, at all the right places. Not only that, everyone looks like a suspect. And I mean everyone. You’re not absolutely 100% sure who the guilty party is until Clarity herself knows at the very end of the novel.
I came up with a short list based on what I learned from Harrington’s writing.
1 – Believable characters and world – the world and characters that Harrington delivers are not only believable, but it’s easy to like and relate to Clarity. Even if you don’t have psychic powers and have been bullied in high school because of who you are, you can still relate. Her setting is a place to get lost in and possibly add to your list of places to visit.
2 – Bread crumbs – Harrington gives the reader just enough bread crumbs to start making guesses. Then she gives more bread crumbs to make the reader doubt the first assumption and create another one. Harrington does this several times until the last couple chapters when Clarity herself figures it out on her own.
3 – Research – Harrington definitely did her research and it shows. Everything is believable through and through. She knew her stuff when it came to the types of stalkers. And she introduced it perfectly, rather than creating an info-dump session.
4 – Tension building – Harrington did so well building up the tension throughout both of her novels that it’s difficult to put the book down at all until the final page has been read.
5 – Bad guys are smart, but not smart enough – In both books the bad guy/gal was smart about how they committed their crimes. They covered their tracks extremely well, but not so good that they couldn’t get caught and the pieces couldn’t be put together. In Harrington’s novels the pieces don’t all get put together until the last two or three chapters.
Your turn -> What do you think makes a good mystery?