I grew up with mystery books as they were my mom’s favorite. Also, in my childhood, Poland had excellent mystery writers for kids. Romance books came much later for me, and the fuse of both genres into romance suspense is now my favorite. So, I’m trying this in my WIP. I find it easier to write the romance part, though, than the suspense. Perhaps, it’s because I can hardly ever guess who did it 🙂
I hope, the suspense part of my plot is going to add at least a little flavor to the love story. So, I’m doing the exercise based on my story, which BTW is written in the first POV, so any clues, discoveries, and emphasis are seen through my heroine’s eyes.
First, the last clue is Jay’s (the hero) SUV from which someone shot at Justyna. She is sure it’s Jay’s vehicle since she recognized the oversized bumper sticker, she personally put on the fifth wheel. Since her heart believes Jay wouldn’t shoot at her, she deducts who else could use his SUV and have a motive to point the finger at Jay. The scene is not written yet, and now I’m thinking that perhaps I could lead Veronique (the villain) to believe Jay was in town when in fact he was not. It would make it easier for the readers to deduct Veronique did it.
Second, how I made the clues memorable or not:
1. A woman from PlusOne escort service is hurt (car accident) before Veronique’s wedding. Jay sent the woman’s name with his RSVP. Non memorable yet. Just mentioned. Justyna doesn’t know the victim personally, only heard the story.
2. Justyna escorts Jay to Veronique wedding, where Justyna feels/sees V’s hate toward Jay when the bride should be overjoyed on her wedding day. Justyna learns that Veronique is Jay’s ex, marriage annulled. Those are strong clues but so early in the story that so far none of CPs points their fingers at Veronique
3. Second woman from PlusOne is hurt (her apartment was on fire, later discovered it was an arson). Justyna used the second woman’s name to hide her own (explained in the book, it was due INS) and that name she used at the wedding. Weak clue as Justyna doesn’t personally know the second woman.
4. Justyna receives black roses with a tarantula inside. Earlier she got many flowers from Jay, however she asked him to stop sending them. Strong feelings (fear, her friends worrying about her) but rather everybody thinks it’s Jay, even if her best friend apologizes to Jay for accusing him of the cruel joke. Another clue connected here is that flowers came to her landlord living downstairs. At that moment Jay already learned Justyna lives at the attic.
5. Justyna’s landlord is attacked by a python in his house. He is an older man, mostly staying at home, so quite fast, everybody thinks the python was supposed to be delivered to Justyna as the tarantula was earlier.
6. Justyna jokes that she is the third victim at PlusOne but the owner of the agency swears she never got any complaints from the clients. This is the first time pointing in this direction, a little strong, but still it’s a joke. Beside the love story picks up around that time, too, so I hope to change readers’ focus at that direction.
7. When the police officer, who is working on the python case, admits none of the pet stores in the neighborhood sold a huge snake nor any owner reported a missing pet, Jay mentions it could be purchased through a private breeder/seller as he once bought a lizard for Veronique. BTW, he knows the pet seller from a bar where he three times drunk himself to oblivion and injured his shoulder. Both clues are just mentioned and rather made Jay look suspicious than point into Veronique.
8. There is also a big fight with Justyna’s best friend’s father, and some people think he sent the python to Justyna. She doesn’t believe it as the father knows she lives upstairs and was too drunk to bring a heavy snake. Plus, few other things. But who knows?
9. This clue I still need to think about. I want Justyna to go the bar where Jay met the exotic pet trader. She would learn from the trader he sold a python and tarantula to Jay. At this time, Justyna and Jay would already break up, but I want to show Justyna doesn’t believe Jay would want to hurt her even if he broke her heart. I need the clue to point at Jay while really Veronique purchased the animals.
Also, at the bar Justyna would see Veronique being too friendly with the barman (a guy huge enough to help her escort a drunk Jay home and hurt him the three other times)—the barman is not Veronique’s new husband. However, Justyna shouldn’t deduct yet that Veronique and the barman might be behind the injuries. She would just be surprised to see Veronique with another man and focused on that plus why Jay would buy the deadly animals.
Kind of the paradox is, that Veronique’s actions, against her wishes, put Justyna and Jay together.