So here’s the thing. There are about 862 different classifications of mysteries: hard boiled, police procedural, PI, cozy, comedic, food, cat sleuths, women sleuths, historical, etc. Then, you’ve got your thrillers: legal, medical, psychological, techno, espionage, etc. Add to that romantic suspense, and you’ve got yourself a big sub-genre pool to choose from. But still, I’m not sure where Absolute Liability will fit.
I started my foray into mysteries on TV. I loved Scooby-Doo. My favorite TV show from the 1980s was Scarecrow and Mrs. King. Over the course of my youth, I watched countless types of mysteries on TV with my dad: Remington Steele, Silk Stalkings, Keen Eddie, Columbo, and The Rockford Files. I loved them. Even today, he’ll call me and tell me to watch such and such a new mystery show, and I know I’ll love it, except for the ones heavy on forensics. I’m over forensics. Anyway, later in my childhood, I found out about Agatha Christie. I read tons of her books and loved them too. But I have to admit that my taste in mysteries has its origin in TV.
I love comedic mysteries. I love their oddball minor characters, their ability to look at tragedy and fear and not become morose, and their major character development, including the romantic entanglements. I don’t care much for gore, but I do love gun play. Suspense is important too. The characters have to be in enough jeopardy to balance the comedy.
Add to this my interest in writing about characters who are not necessarily the most obvious. The book world is full of PIs, cops, medical examiners, forensic specialists, and bounty hunters. I wanted to write something different, but still, the character needed to be able to carry a gun (refer to my love of gun play) and have a clue about crime solving. (And not just own a cat who would do it for them.) So when I read about an abduction involving a state insurance fraud investigator in my local news, I knew I’d found my character. Couple that with all those stories you read about people trying to defraud insurance companies in wacky ways, and you’ve got your kooky sub-characters.
All this to try to explain what Absolute Liability will be like. I really haven’t done a great job. If I had to compare it to a book, I’d say it was like Janet Evanovich’s first Plum novel only: One for the Money. This is the only Plum book I think she got right. Then, she went over the top with the zany antics, car explosions, and random dog vomit. I loved One for the Money; it had a nice balance and no dog puke. But I’m not really going in an Evanovich slapsticky direction either; even though it’s probably gauche to say this, Absolute Liability is really more like one of the current mysteries on USA Network or the Mentalist or Castle. Absolute Liability has a likeable cast, a long-term mystery to solve throughout the series, as well as the major mysteries in each novel. It is light when it needs to be, suspenseful at the right moment, and just plain fun to read (I hope).