It is a lot harder than I expected to write a credible murder mystery (accent on “credible.”) By page 9 in my new book a murder takes place – and I know who did it and why. But since I’d like to stretch out the story for another 250 to 300 pages I need to keep that knowledge to myself. In fact, I need to throw in viable red herrings, multiple suspects, and a few sustainable motives. Otherwise Smiling at Heaven will end up being one of the shortest murder mysteries in recent fiction. I’m having such fun with it, though, that if I can pull it off [please, please be surprised when the villain is unmasked!] I may have to try my hand at another one.
Btw, the title –Smiling at Heaven– is from a poem called “The Young Soldier” by poet Wilfred Owen. The last verse reads: “It is the smile / Faint as a (waning) myth / Faint and exceeding small / On a boy’s murdered mouth.” Google Owen and/or the title of the poem for the whole piece, but I had a yippee moment when I read it. So very perfect for my purpose! The only thing that subdued my happy satisfaction at the find is the knowledge of Owen’s death in World War One at the too-young age of 25. He died November 4, 1918, exactly one week before the armistice that ended The Great War was declared. Such fine talent wasted! Perhaps this last book of The Laramie Series will, in its own way, offer Wilfred Owen a kind of humble homage. He and all who lie beneath military white crosses on foreign soil deserve to be remembered.