Our investigation begins with the town’s point of view and a town character whose presence afterward will be sparingly used (that’s my plan). She’s a crank, pretty much there to start the “show,” giving a book talk in the library. Ruth Moore deployed a crank in the first chapter of her Walk down Main Street. Just to get things started.
Peter Hitchens’ blog at the Daily Mail provided a nudge to pick up Josephine Tey’s The Franchise Affair again. He quoted Holmes in defense of how amazingly wrong the easy explanation can be: “It is a capital error to theorize without data.” I only remembered this mystery book after grabbing it from the top shelf and starting on it again. Hitchens calls Tey’s mystery “severely brilliant.” Here a “dogged, skeptical inquiry reveals that something apparently impossible is true.” The “unpopular” suspects are innocent of the charge, though judged guilty by almost all in the rural town.
That’s when I noticed that in my late reading of Whose Body, Sayers’ deceptively silly, shellshocked Lord Peter Wimsey–like Robert Blair in The Franchise–lists the data I hadn’t actually seen clearly until the list is plainly but unobtrusively given.
So I’m going to have to pay careful attention during my investigation into whether or not The God’s Cycle can be revived in mystery-story format, containing its own carefully displayed, gathered, and unobtrusively presented data points.
I’m hoping to change direction in a follow-up to the first chapter. Perhaps the setting will be the school system bus garage? Anyway, the reader will get out of the library leaving the surprise body behind without further comment or elucidation… until the end of chapter two? The ice storm, is, of course, ongoing at that point.
One thing I haven’t considered yet … is whether or not The Fantastic will play any role in this novel. As in the first six novels of the Cycle.