Writing a 'Cold Case' Mystery - The Savvy Author

There is nothing more intriguing to many readers than a cold case mystery. The details, the missed evidence, the old clues that the fresh eyes of the new investigator might decipher; it’s all there for the reader. Putting all the old crime scene data together is similar to working a puzzle. Finding that one crucial piece can solve the case.

Though cold case mysteries have been around for centuries, (the short tale The Three Apples in ARABIAN NIGHTS detailed a
cold case and amateur detective of sorts who solved the mystery of a deadfemale whose body was found in a trunk floating in the river Tigris), the public interest in books featuring a cold case is increasing today. Whether kidnapping, murder, sudden, unexplained disappearance, the finding of a lost-lost relative, or even the nailing of a wayward spouse, the need to know
what happened is a human desire. The who, what, where, how, and why grab our interest and that’s where the fictional private investigator comes in. She, or he, is hired to solve the cold case and, as the story unfolds, the fun begins.

As my character private investigator Cate Harlow states concerning her own coldcase of a missing teen in chapter one of SINS OF THE FATHERS, “At some time in their lives, most people think that they need the services of a private investigator and they’re pretty much willing to pay whatever is charged. Usually they’re looking to nail a cheating spouse, find a long-lost
relative, or uncover some secret about their family’s past. And while I certainly don’t want to put myself out of business, in my experience they’d be better off saving their money. The truth is that if you suspect a spouse is cheating, he, or she, usually is. That long-lost relative you feel that you just have to find? In nine out of ten cases, that person doesn’t want to be
found. And that crucial info, that secret, you’re so eager to find out about your family’s past? Forget it. Unless you’re prepared to face some horrible, frightening fact about your ancestors that may haunt you forever, leave it alone. When you open a locked door, you never know what slime will ooze through.” *

Even though Cate feels that the teen missing for ten years may be dead, she eagerly takes on the cold case for her client and perseveres through danger and horrific details, almost losing her own life in the bargain. That’s the way it is with just about all fictional cold case investigators; they’ll do anything to get to the truth.

The human need to find closure in any case, cold or not, has helped authors create multi-faceted characters who will risk their own lives and reputations to find answers as to what has happened. These characters are likeable. They’re reader-relatable characters with human flaws, personal lives, workplace friends, and a tenacity to work all angles until they solve the crime. As Cate Harlow assures her clients, “Trust me, I’m very good at what I do.”

Cold case fiction is so popular today that there are now websites inviting amateur sleuths to examine and try to solve cold case murders within a group of like-minded aficionados. If you’re interested in trying your hand in solving a cold case crime, visit the following http://www.coldcasejury.com and http://www.helpsolvethecase.com/ Or maybe these cold case crime sites just might inspire your cold case book. You never know where you'll find a spark that lights your imagination and gets your creative, literary juices flowing!

© 2018 copyright Kristen Houghton The Savvy Author all rights reserved

Currently working on her first YA book series, Kristen Houghton is the author of nine novels, two non-fiction books, a collection of short stories, a book of essays, and a children’s novella. Her latest novel, DO UNTO OTHERS, is book 4 in her best-selling series, A Cate Harlow Private Investigation.

She is also the author of the Horror Writers of America award-winning Quick-Read, Welcome to Hell.
Kristen Houghton has covered politics, news, and lifestyle issues as a contributor to the Huffington Post.
Her writing portfolio includes Criminal Element Magazine, a division of Macmillan Publishing, Hartford Woman, Today, senior fiction editor at Bella Magazine, interviews and reviews for HBO documentaries, OWN, The Oprah Winfrey Network, and The Style Channel.

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