The other day my friend and fellow writer, Pat Gligor, was a guest on my blog http://www.marilynlevinson.com/blog/ to talk about her new mystery, Dangerous Deeds. She discussed When a Child Goes Missing, one of the themes of her novel.
It got me thinking about themes. All novels require a powerful theme, and that includes mysteries. Love, betrayal, friendship, whatever. The theme of a mystery runs through it, impacting the lives of victims, suspects, and murderer. Theme adds a dimension. It provides ballast. It adds interest to your story.
In my latest mystery, Murder a la Christie, Lexie has her hands full trying to discover who’s knocking off the members of her mystery book club as she leads discussions about novels by Agatha Christie. She’s also at a crossroads in her life. For one thing, she’s begun a budding romance with an intelligent, good-looking world-renown architect. Allistair West has made it very clear that he’s interested in a long-term relationship. Then why is she drawn to Detective Brian Donovan? Hasn’t she had enough of “interesting” men? The last “interesting” man she got involved with was her second husband. He proved to be unstable. And when she began divorce proceedings, he burned down her house with himself inside.
Lexie finds herself house sitting in the upscale village of Old Cadfield, blocks from where Rosie, her best friend and former college roommate, lives with her husband. Hal was Lexie’s college boy friend, until she decided he was too serious. Now Hal is a successful financier. Has Lexie been making wrong choices all her life or simply being true to herself?
Lexie feels out of place in this posh neighborhood. The surviving book club members close rank and refuse to answer her questions. Even Rosie tells her to stop playing Miss Marple. Lexie wonders: don’t they care about finding the murderer? Has Rosie changed that much since college? Is it possible that Rosie is the murderer?
Lydia Krause, in A Murderer Among Us and Murder in the Air, is fifty-eight when she moves to Twin Lakes, an over-55 gated community. She's about to embark on a new phase in her life. Newly widowed, she has recently sold the company she’s headed for many years. In A Murderer Among Us, Lydia's older daughter, who still resents her for having gone to work full-time when she was in elementary school, constantly asks her to baby sit. Lydia knows something's wrong. She unearths her daughter’s secret and takes steps to heal their relationship. She also forms friendships with other women, something she didn’t have time for when she was busy running a company.
The problems and concerns of dating among the older set is a theme in Murder in the Air. Lydia’s on and off relationship with Detective Sol Molina is affected by his fear of forming a serious relationship and his not liking Lydia’s involvement in the homicide investigation concerning her murdered neighbor. And what is she to do when one of her neighbors invites her out? Lydia’s part-time job, which she took to keep busy, is leading to a more
important and time consuming position. Should she take on more responsibilities at this point in her life? All questions that retired people ask themselves each day.
There are many themes to write about. Love, betrayal, aging, new beginnings. What are some of the themes that run through your mysteries?