1. HelloThere
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    HelloThere Contributing Member

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    Detective Investigates Murders He Commited

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by HelloThere, Apr 18, 2014.

    (Could be spoilers in this thread)

    A detective investigating the murders he committed; I realize this has been done before, what's your opinion on this particular twist? Anything I should avoid in order to make it more original? Any examples of this twist being done quite well, or quite poorly?

    What I've got planned for my plot is that the twist should divide the reader on whether to support the protagonist or not. He's kind of justified, but then again he's just betrayed my reader's trust after many thousands of words. Thanks for your thoughts.
     
  2. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I remember a rule of detective fiction - detective can't be the murderer. I think this sort of twist works a lot better in film then in a novel.
     
  3. HelloThere
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    HelloThere Contributing Member

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    Yeah, I think I agree with you as far as working better as a film. I'm still gonna give it a go, rules were made to be broken and all that business.
     
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  4. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Good for you, I hope it turns out good :) I think the main reason for the objection is that the reader feels cheated. As if the 'deal' is struck that the protagonist is a good guy or at least not the villain. This goes for the traditional detective mystery, or a procedural. I suppose if the format was somewhat different, it could work better. Point of view will be the biggest challenge, if your detective is the main pov character.
     
  5. HelloThere
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    HelloThere Contributing Member

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    I'm gonna have a few sections from the POV of the 'murderer' - some ominous monologues and whatnot.
     
  6. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    If the story leads the reader to think the MC detective is honestly trying to solve the case and then ends with him turning out to be the villain, then I think most readers would not be happy because the entire novel would have been a lie, much like those stories that end with "And then he woke up". You've simply wasted everyone's time.
     
  7. HelloThere
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    HelloThere Contributing Member

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    I see where you're coming from, but I'll defend myself. I think it'll work because the twist isn't going to act as some kind of wrapping up of the story that comes in the last chapter, it will probably take place 3/4 through, perhaps earlier, acting more as a turning point to the story and stepping up the intensity. And it won't be as clear cut as "he was the bad guy all along." It'll be more like "These guys are on opposing sides now and I don't know who I want to win."

    That's my defense anyway - I could be wrong, but we shall see.
     
  8. BrandonrockstheAM
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    BrandonrockstheAM Active Member

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    This reminds me of the game Heavy Rain, in which one of the POV characters was the murderer and was investigating the case as a private detective in order to destroy evidence. It led to a very huge surprise for me, at least.

    However, he was not in the least the main character.
     
  9. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Could you make the story as to have the detective not sure himself whether he was the murderer? That would allow the whole "who done it?" thing to include him as a possibility, and the reader wouldn't feel cheated in the end. Maybe you could have a changing level of self-doubt. At first, he could think there's no way it's him despite some circumstantial evidence. Later, he could really start to think it's him as he talks to witnesses. Later still, he could delude himself into thinking it's not him until the climax where we find out it is him.
     
  10. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    It can work, but it is used a lot, especially on TV.
     
  11. matt_kicking
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    matt_kicking Member

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    Similar sort of theme to Shutter Island, meaning that if it's done well it can be very effective.
     
  12. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Read the Agent by Joseph Conrad. It's not at all what you're talking about on surface level, but he uses changes in POV masterfully to delay knowledge that the reader would otherwise know immediately.
     
  13. cazann34
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    cazann34 Active Member

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    You could have it that the detective has inadvertently caused a series of events to occur that caused the death of the victim. But would that be death my misadventure (death caused by a person accidentally while performing a legal act without negligence or intent to harm.) not murder. In that case he would be investigating himself and it would be a twist for him as well as the reader.

    Didn't Agatha Christie turn the narrator into the murderer in one of her novels. An holy unacceptable twist in my opinion.
     
  14. CrimsonReaper
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    CrimsonReaper Active Member

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    You are thinking of the Murder of Roger Ackroyd, where the narrator had been helping Poirot investigate the crime. In the end Poirot reveals that said narrator was the killer all along and helped in order to derail the investigation. It's also one of those stories where rather than turn the guy in he is given the "honorable" choice to kill himself and spare his family shame.

    And yes, at the time many people felt it was a cheat. Though some people liked it. So you are taking your chances, which is what we all do when we put a creation out there.

    My personal opinion is that is was straight-up dishonest. Then again I prefer fair play mysteries over stuff like Sherlocke Holmes and the like where it's all about seeing how awesome the protagonist is for knowing completely obscure facts that would be of no use outside a specific murder case or generally being speshul...
     
  15. mg357
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    mg357 Active Member

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    What about this the detective's partner at work commits the murders and the Main Character detective is forced to investigate the crimes knowing the whole time that his work partner is guilty of committing the murders.
     
  16. HelloThere
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    HelloThere Contributing Member

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    The main character's partner will be a large part of the action so when the twist does come I'll split the point of view between the two.
     
  17. Vandor76
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    Vandor76 Contributing Member

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    What is his motivation? Does he kill criminals he can't arrest but know they are guilty? Is he paid by the mafia and become their assassin? He kills people and fake evidence to point to his enemies? Or is it some kind of personal vengeance?

    How does he feel about his doings? Does he feel guilty? Does he think he's doing the right thing? He has already seen everything imaginable, burnt out and kills without feelings?

    He may have an antagonist, the good cop who really wants to find the killer. This can be an annoying guy or an attractive woman. The actions and findings of the good cop can add drama to the story and give motivation to the protagonist to do certain things he wouldn't do in normal circumstances (like stealing evidence from the police building).

    Maybe the local organised crime is also after him because he killed an important gang member? Their private investigation is more dangerous because the protagonist don't know if they find something.

    Maybe he was a cop but was fired some time ago because of his "unusual" methods and after that he started to serial kill the mafia members leading to an underworld war. The twist can be that his boss recalls him as a result of this war and wants him to find the serial killer. Later the good cop finds out he is the killer and the last part of the book is about their epic duel.
     
  18. HelloThere
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    HelloThere Contributing Member

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    Well there's actually sort of a fantasy element that I didn't mention before to avoid people groaning at the mention of the term "Vampire." - Basically the detective was long ago recruited into a sort of vampire gang thing. The police rather brutally murdered all the vampires until they were pretty much extinct. The main character then goes on a long quest of retribution to punish the corrupt members of the police force and government that punished the vampires in a way he deemed unfair.
     
  19. Lea`Brooks
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    I think the biggest problem you're going to have writing this story is internal monologue. If you're telling the story from the detective's perspective, whether in first or third person, there has to be a point where he says to himself, "I did this. But I need to turn the investigation away from me." He can't very well be working with his partner, thinking, "I wonder who could have done this," or looking through photos and interviews, thinking, "There has to be some answer here that I'm missing," only to find out that he was the one who did it the whole time.

    He's not necessarily going to have a guilty conscience, but at some point, he's going to realize the investigation will point his way. And he's going to think, "Oh crap, what do I do?" before finding a way to steer the investigation away from him. I suppose there's a way to work around that, switching POV and such. But definitely be careful of it.
     
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  20. Vandor76
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    Vandor76 Contributing Member

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    @HelloThere : as I understand your detective exactly knows that he is the murderer and does it because he thinks it is the right thing to do. You mentioned that
    so at some point of the story the reader comes to know who is the murderer.

    This means he will try to destroy evidence from the beginning of the story, feels guilty only if an innocent 3rd party is hurt accidentally and the reader sees both the crime and investigation.
    Am I right?
     
  21. HelloThere
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    HelloThere Contributing Member

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    @Vandor76 , yes, although he isn't too worried about the investigation leading back to him so he doesn't try and manipulate it too much. In a way he's on self destruct mode, going out with a bang and taking down as many people as he can before he does.
     
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  22. Vandor76
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    Vandor76 Contributing Member

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    Hahaha I like this :laugh:
     

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