How to Write a Mystery—A Handbook from Mystery Writers of America

Edited by Lee Child with Laurie R. King

Hardcover, 326 pages, 2021.


Fans of detective stories, mystery, and thrillers will love this compilation of their beloved writers on how to write gripping novels.

Edited by the creator of the bestselling Jack Reacher series, this modern guide gives aspiring novelists the rules, genres, and writing style—but with a twist—there’s always a surprise right?—but it’s all witty and fun.

You’ll hear from established authors, awarded bestsellers, book critics, and publishing editors. You’ll also discover new writers or genres you’d like to explore: amateur sleuth, noir, cross genres (like a vampire mystery), historical mystery, medical and spy thrillers.

Advice is wide and varied. Apart from the usual conundrum—to outline or not?; writing style; and target audience (adults, children, young adults), this guide broadens to graphic novels, short mysteries, true crime, diversity, humor, collaboration, and tie-ins.

And since we’re in the digital age, it gives you the inside look into book critics (online and in print), Amazon reviews, how NOT to get your book reviewed, self-publishing, your web presence, building your community, and US copyright laws.

Though I’m a mere mystery fan, I learned a lot about the various ways to effectively craft a compelling plot and the variety within the genre. I found a lot of good points to enliven my own writing. I love rereading this and it will surely be a steady reference for any writer who wants keep the reader  in suspense.