Reading a mystery with comedic elements is a joy. Writing one is even better.
The insanity often begins with a character, or as in the case of FRANK, INCENSE AND MURIEL, first book of my Muriel Reeves Mysteries series, an entire family of characters. I’ve made sure each of these zany people possess at least one trait that can be used to create a funny situation.
As is typical of most family gatherings, it is the interaction between characters that heightens the craziness. Just put a know-it-all next to someone with a phobia or place a schemer next to an innocent or position a show-off next to an introvert and something funny is bound to happen. It may not strike the characters in the scene as being particularly funny, which is often hysterical in itself, but it is the author’s job to make the scene entertaining and amusing for the reader.
How? One way is to take a simple truth and exaggerate it.
A common misconception that our noses continue to grow as we age is one example. They do not, but as years pass gravity does cause our nose to droop. Exaggerate the time, space continuum thingy of where an older woman assumes the tip of her nose is on her face, with the reality of where it really is, plus add a prop or two for good measure, and the fun begins.
This excerpt from FRANK, INCENSE AND MURIEL takes place inside Muriel’s kitchen. Seated next to her is private investigator Frankie Salerno, and her aunt. In honor of the holiday season Val is on a Twelve-Days-of-Christmas baking binge. She’s made a dozen mincemeat tarts. “Each decorated with two of the cutest little ceramic turtledoves you’ve ever seen.”
* * *
(Frankie) helped himself to a tart and following my example removed the turtledoves and placed them on his napkin. He sunk his teeth into the tart and I watched spellbound as a look of utter satisfaction spread across his face. He caught my gaze and I realized that at least we agreed on one thing. My aunt sure could cook.
“I never liked that guy,” Val said. “What was his name?
? Locust?” Logan
“Lucas,” Frankie replied.
“Whatever.” She took a bite. I watched in horror as the tiny head of one of the turtledoves disappeared inside her right nostril.
“He was far too polite for my liking,” she said, her voice an octave higher than normal. “It wasn’t natural.”
I breathed a sigh of relief when the turtledove freed itself and plummeted head first into her mug. Coffee sloshed over the rim and onto the table like a mini tsunami.
“Are you talking about Brickman’s Furniture Shop?” I asked, handing her a second napkin. She patted up the spill, and then rescued the drowning turtledove with her spoon.
* * *
Every scene does not need to be laugh out loud funny. Nor does it need to be physical comedy. It can be subtle, disrupting the conversation to causing a double take.
Until next time, happy writing!