‘Cause You’re Trying Too Hard to Get a Reaction*

Confessions of a Mystery Novelist...

There are a number of ways that an author can ‘stir the pot,’ and add tension to a story. One of them is when a character deliberately says something provocative. It might be a veiled (or not-so-veiled) insult. Or it might be an accusation. Sometimes it’s just a remark intended to get a rise out of others. Whatever the reason for it, those comments can make a fictional atmosphere all the more charged. There are plenty of examples of this sort of character and remark in the genre. Here are just a few.

In Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (AKA A Holiday For Murder and Murder For Christmas), wealthy patriarch Simeon Lee invites his relations to the family home, Gorston Hall, for Christmas. Lee holds the proverbial purse strings; so, although he’s an unpleasant person whom no-one likes, everyone accepts the invitation. When the family members gather, Lee says…

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