Location, Location, Location
After landing on the moon…that could have been a fun location for a murder.
The Egyptian Pyramids, Eiffel Tower, or White House? They would be great locations for a good murder. In fact, they have been.
Major cities, small towns, and many made up villages have become the location for a murder mystery and, especially, several very successful mystery series.
There were plenty of murders in cities along Rt. 66. John Steinbeck named it the Mother Road. I think of it as the Murder Road.
Location was once considered everything in business…before technology. Location is still essential in a good mystery. Location is place, and place is as much a character in mysteries as the people.
Murder on the Orient Express—what a great location for a murder, moving and stopped. As was the apartment in Rear Window, and another apartment in the haunting film, Laura. In and around London there were many murders with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson and a fascinating one on an English Country Estate in Godsford Park.
We lovers of mysteries know that murders and other crimes have occurred on all sorts of moving vehicles, in different rooms in small homes and large estates, and possibly even in our own back yards? Well, hopefully not!
The lover of mystery books enjoys envisioning the place where a story takes them, and in movies and on television the place often becomes central to the appeal and importance of the story. It helps the viewer to become caught up in it, perhaps even feel a part of it. Some plots are dark and frightening and provide an extra sense of anticipation for lovers of thrillers like the type written by Stephen King, and his locations add to the suspense.
The art of a murder mystery and investigation includes a private detective or the police or, in a cozy mystery, an amateur sleuth. The dialogue needs to create suspense with some foreshadowing and fake clues are followed and soon ignored. Finally, the arc of the murder mystery starts having the story lead to the chase of the real villains, who are caught—dead or alive—of course.
But, what about a location, where murder and mayhem terrorize the residents. Doors are locked and there are whispers and secrets behind those closed doors. Questions remain. Who killed their neighbor’s wife in the alley next to the post office? Who stabbed the old man as he walked across the bridge late at night? Who pushed the young man off his apartment balcony? Why did the murderer run his or her car over the victim on a country road, the moon hidden behind the trees? Were there witnesses to any of these murders? Ah, where are they possibly located?
As a mystery writer, I believe location plays a huge part in the plot and ultimately when and where the murder is solved. To escape murderers hide in a location fitting the plot, one designed to build up a sense of suspense and anticipation.
We as readers and viewers also enjoy explosive endings. There are gunfights and car chases up and down city streets. There are threats and demands until the final moments of capture. The movie Witness ended in an Amish barn. In the book The Name of the Rose, written by one of my favorite authors, Umberto Eco, the murders and the ending take place in an Abbey in the 1300s. In Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, the finale is on Mt. Rushmore. Another favorite of mine is Sue Grafton’s Alphabet Series taking place somewhere along the California coast. And, in historical fiction, the landscape fits the century and the plot.
Location, location, location. The book ends. The film is finished. Surely calm prevails, the dark sky is lighter, and all is right again. Or is it?
About the Author
Marcia Rosen (aka M. Glenda Rosen), award winning author of eleven books including The Senior Sleuths and Dying To Be Beautiful Mystery Series and The Gourmet Gangster: Mysteries and Menus (Menus by her son Jory Rosen). She is also author of The Woman’s Business Therapist and award winning My Memoir Workbook. For 25 years she was owner of a successful national marketing and public relations agency.
Marcia is a member of numerous writing organizations and frequent guest speaker.