(6 in a series on writing the Max Hurlock mysteries)
Having selected a sensational true crime to use as a base for the first Max Hurlock Roaring 20s mystery, another dilemma popped up. It seems the true crime took place in New Jersey and our Max was based on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. So how to get him involved? There are three basic ways:
1- The murder happens at the exect spot where the detective happens to be (The Murder She Wrote method)
2- The murder happens elsewhere; detective hears about the murder and decides to stick his nose in. (The Simon Bremer method from the Ellery Queen mysteries)
3-The murder happens elsewhere and a client comes to the detective with a request to investigate. (The Sherlock Holmes and scads of others method)
Method three seemed to hold the most promise, but I wanted to show the murder, or at least the discovery of the murder because it provides a good opening for the book. So the first chapter was the discovery of the crime and then the scene shifts to Max and Allison Hurlock at home, or, to be more exact, in the cockpits of their biplane, Gypsy. Yeah, that’s the ticket, but since this is their first case, why should anyone request that Max investigate? It’s a chicken and egg problem.
The solution was simplicity itself. Max is a WWI navy veteran. When on the ship, he solved the murder of a bo’sun’s mate and everyone started calling him Sherlock Hurlock. The father of one of the double murder, locked room victims was Max’s XO on the ship and remembered his old shipmate when the ship hit the fan. (so to speak) He calls on Max to come to New Jersey and find the truth and we are off to the races.
Now all we have to do is figure out the rest of the plot, add some more characters/suspects, and let human nature take its course.