Thank you for stopping by I’m delighted to be sharing a guest post by Joseph Lewis as part of the blog tour for Caught in a Web. First of all though let’s take a look at the description for the book…
The bodies of high school and middle school kids are found dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. The drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors and the Milwaukee Metro area is controlled by MS-13, a violent gang originating from El Salvador. Ricardo Fuentes is sent from Chicago to Waukesha to find out who is cutting in on their business, shut it down and teach them a lesson. But he has an ulterior motive: find and kill a fifteen-year-old boy, George Tokay, who had killed his cousin the previous summer.
Detectives Jamie Graff, Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann race to find the source of the drugs, shut down the ring, and find Fuentes before he kills anyone else, especially George or members of his family. The three detectives discover the ring has its roots in a high school among the students and staff
Mystery vs Suspense
Before I began writing, I used the two terms Mystery and Suspense interchangeably. I, probably like many of you, thought the two were synonymous. I was wrong when it comes to books and writing.
Let’s take a look at Suspense. Think of Stephen King’s Cujo. This was a book about a large dog that was bitten by a rabid animal and developed rabies. It killed its master and threatened a mom and son trapped in their car. The same elements in Cujo can be found in Peter Straub’s Ghost Story. In both examples, there is a strong sense of “feeling” and “emotion.” That is the driving force behind a Suspense novel. In Peter Benchley’s Jaws the main “character” seems to be a shark. While there are characters- my favorite being the grizzled old sailor- the action of the book is where and when the shark might strike next, along with who will get eaten.
In Mystery, there is a puzzle. Think of James Patterson’s character, Alex Cross. He travels from book to book and story to story across multiple books. Same with John Sandford’s character, Lucas Davenport, or Michael Connelly’s character, Harry Bosch. While there are some elements of suspense in each of these series, the main ingredient in a mystery is the puzzle. The author dares the reader to figure out the “who” and the “why.”
In my novel, Caught in a Web, I take the same adolescent boys, in particular fifteen-year-old George, along with my three intrepid detectives, Pat O’Connor, Jamie Graff and Paul Eiselmann on another adventure, this time to find out who is behind the deaths of middle and high school kids. Yes, there is suspense, but I dare the reader to figure out the “who” and the “why.” Neither is clear until the very end.
In my more recent novel, Spiral Into Darkness, the reader will figure out the “who” much sooner than the “why.” I did that on purpose because I wanted the reader to match wits with the serial killer as this killer moves along, seemingly in random and haphazard fashion, killing individuals on a list. As I wrote this book, I was more interested in the “why” of the narrative than the “who.”
So, the difference between mystery and suspense can be summarized as this: Puzzle is to Mystery as Emotion is to Suspense. In suspense, there is an emotional charge, a jolt to the story. Characters, while somewhat important, are really secondary to the feeling and emotion generated by the story. In mystery, the story tilts to the intellectual side, the puzzle of who and why, even though there is an emotional side to it. Characters are central to the mystery, but aren’t as central to the story in suspense.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joseph Lewis has written five books: Caught in a Web; Taking Lives; Stolen Lives; Shattered Lives, and Splintered Lives. His sixth, Spiral into Darkness, debuts January 17, 2019 from Black Rose Writing. Lewis has been in education for 42 years and counting as a teacher, coach, counselor and administrator. He is currently a high school principal and resides in Virginia with his wife, Kim, along with his daughters, Hannah and Emily. His son, Wil, is deceased.
Lewis uses his psychology and counseling background to craft his characters which helps to bring them to life. His books are topical and fresh and appeal to anyone who enjoys crime thriller fiction with grit and realism and a touch of young adult thrown in.
Social Media Links
Twitter at @jrlewisauthor
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