By Reece Hirsch
As an attorney, my clients place their trust in me. If I were to violate that trust, I could face a malpractice lawsuit or loss of my license. As a thriller writer, I ask my readers to trust me, but they know that they really can’t – and that’s because mystery/thriller writers and their readers have always had trust issues.
Anyone who has read a few mysteries knows better than to completely trust that seemingly innocuous supporting character introduced in the early chapters, the one who keeps showing up at crucial moments. And the more funny and harmless that character seems, the more suspicious some readers will become.
Of course, writers know that savvy readers are on the lookout for the villain in disguise or the last act twist. That’s when the real head games begin. When is a plot twist so obvious that the reader dismisses it as a red herring? When does a writer use so much misdirection that it achieves the opposite effect? And when can a writer use the savvy readers’ expectations against them (in a good way)?