Tag Archives: mystery

Neurodivergence and Mystery

Absence of Evidence
Photo by https://unsplash.com/@nathananderson

I’ve taken Charles French up on his generous offer to publish a guest post promoting my latest story on his popular blog. Mystery Weekly Magazine has published my novelette “Absence of Evidence,” a story that’s more than just a murder mystery.

Be sure to check out the background on my latest work. And don’t forget to follow Charles French, whose blog offers a wealth of resources for both writers and fans of speculative fiction. French teaches literature, and is an accomplished writer himself.

Mystery Weekly Magazine is a Mystery Writers of America approved publisher, and is available in digital and print formats on Amazon.

Absence of Evidence

Mystery Weekly Magazine has published my novelette “Absence of Evidence.”

Treka Dunn, the senior investigator for the county Medical Examiner’s office, is positive the deceased in her latest case, Davis Washburn, died of natural causes. However, Davis’s autistic son Ron believes his father was poisoned. When a toxicology exam reveals no evidence of foul play, Treka tries to explain the findings to Ron.

But when Ron tells her about his last conversation with his father, Treka realizes she’s made a serious mistake.

This is my second appearance in Mystery Weekly Magazine. My first story with them, “The Calculus of Karma,” was a sci-fi/mystery mash-up. “Absence of Evidence” is a procedural crime story, with a gold mine of technical detail. For me, the background research for a story is a huge part of the joy of writing, and “Absence” was a challenge that occupied me nearly two months. The plot also owes a great deal to my years as a workflow analyst.

Which proves that with enough effort and just the right amount of devilish imagination, you can write a story about anything.

I want to give special thanks to two technical advisers who provided invaluable information about the inner workings of hospitals. One is my daughter, Lt. Jessica Fields, an experienced RN who’s now an Air Force nurse. The other is Betty Vuncannon Crowley, an RN who went on to hospital administration. I am eternally grateful to both.

Mystery Weekly Magazine is a Mystery Writers of America approved publisher, and is available in digital and print formats on Amazon.

T. E. Hulme and the Heart of Mystery

T. E. Hulmd

A murder victim demands many things.

Their very presence requires answers to tough questions: Who did this? How? And above all, why?

Mystery stories promise a twisting and often treacherous search complicated with deceit and dark emotions. And that search offers rich opportunities to explore the boundaries of human rationality and depravity. The murderer, in taking a life, has struck a blow against normalcy itself, so solving the crime is not just for the immediate victim, but all of society.

Is the culprit a blatant sociopath, a serial killer who continually preys on others? Or – perhaps even more terrifying – is it a latent sociopath we thought was normal?

Mystery author Joanna Schaffhausen writes that we can recognize sociopaths by their “narcissism, lying (even when it was easier to tell the truth), indifference to societal rules, [and] lack of empathy or conscience.”

Mystery tales explore the dark tendencies unleashed by social disconnection. And this is where Imagist poet T. E. Hulme can step in to clarify things. In his essay Romanticism and Classicism, Hulme discusses the distinction between these two movements, and in doing so, lays out the difference between the world views of the protagonist and antagonist in a mystery story:

Here is the root of all romanticism: that man, the individual, is an infinite reservoir of possibilities; and if you can so rearrange society by the destruction of oppressive order then these possibilities will have a chance and you will get Progress.

One can define the classical quite clearly as the exact opposite to this. Man is an extraordinarily fixed and limited animal whose nature is absolutely constant. It is only by tradition and organisation that anything decent can be got out of him.

I suspect that those of us attracted to mystery stories want to enter a world where social norms are defended and restored. After all, the act of reading is itself an affirmation of man’s social nature. As Hulme states in the same essay, literature is a social endeavor:

The great aim is accurate, precise and definite description. The first thing is to recognise how extraordinarily difficult this is. It is no mere matter of carefulness; you have to use language, and language is by its very nature a communal thing.

Studies have shown that reading helps us better understand and connect with others. No wonder mystery stories hold such an attraction for us — they show us the problem and deliver the cure in one fascinating package.

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