top of page


  • Writer's pictureWalker Buckalew

Who Done It? When Do We Find Out? A Fearful Thing

Who Done It? When Do We Find Out? A Fearful Thing

Books, movies, television… the creators of suspenseful stories take widely differing approaches to letting us, the readers and viewers, know “who done it.”

For example, the late Peter Falk played a detective in the American TV drama titled Columbo, a series that ran for three decades, starting around 1970. The formula in those shows called for an elaborately planned murder, carried out in plain view for the TV audience, at the start of each 90-minute episode. In the remaining 80 minutes of each show, viewers watched the detective piece together clues and eventually identify and arrest the perpetrator. Columbo’s incisive brilliance carried the story along.

Contemporary British TV detective dramas take the opposite approach. Viewers watch for 90 minutes and, until the very end, usually have not the slightest idea which character committed the crime. The writers clearly work hard to lead viewers toward first one and then another character, often surprising the audience at the end by revealing that the real murderer was not one of those toward whom they had been leading the audience for an hour-and-a-half.

In A Fearful Thing, the fifth and latest novel in my Rebecca Series, the “bad guys” are first identified in Chapter Eight (out of 19 chapters altogether). However, readers find as they go on that there is more than one level of badness in this novel, and that there are bad guys behind the bad guys. And those bad guys are not uncovered until very late in the story.

Further, in this novel, the bad guys’ targets shift as the story evolves. Their initial target is global, but as the plot develops, the target becomes quite personal to Rebecca and her family.

In addition, as in all my novels, there is a background romance that has its own kind of suspense: not life-or-death suspense, but happy-versus-unhappy outcome suspense for the couple. The would-be couple in this story, we find, is just as likely to become the target of evil’s plans as are Rebecca, her family, and her colleagues.

And, since I rarely know exactly how these plots will resolve themselves until they do, I get to enjoy the same kind of suspense as do my readers. Until I began the Rebecca Series, it had not occurred to me that there could be just as much suspense for the author as for the readers. But there certainly can be.

14 views0 comments


bottom of page