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10 July 2010
Did you know who the murderer was?
(by this I don't mean, did you work out who the murderer was, but whether you always knew.)
That is, was it a whodunnit or a whydunnit?
Perhaps it was a combination, but in that case "who" generally comes before "why".
For example, Hercule Poirot was always very interested in why crimes were committed. This was the case in DEATH IN THE CLOUDS where the investigation of the murder is jointly conducted by Poirot, the French detective Fournier and Inspector Japp from Scotland Yard, and each brings a different quality to its conduct. Poirot and Fournier are both interested in the psychology of crime. However "who" has to be solved before "why" can be explored.
But in the modern murder mystery, whydunnits are becoming more prevalent.
For example in Jan Costin Wagner's ICE MOON, the most recent murder mystery that I read, I said in my review "From the start the reader knows who the murderer is and for much of ICE MOON we watch the murderer's path and that of the investigation converge."
So I invite you to consider the murder mystery that you most recently read. Did you know very early on who the murderer was, or was it a conclusion you eventually came to?
I invite you to participate in the poll over on top right, and then to tell us about it in a comment below. Don't forget to mention the book.