A Good Reader’s Guide to Solving Mysteries

Five rules I’ve learned from reading mystery books.

Rule 1: Make sure you have all the equipment and resources you need.

You will need a notebook for making lists and recording what people tell you.

You will also need a phone for looking things up, contacting people, and calling for help.

Most importantly, you will need a close friend to rescue you when you get in trouble, and point out things you have overlooked.

Do not try to solve a mystery without completing the necessary preparation!

Image of a cup of coffee and a notebook.
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Rule 2: Accept all kinds of evidence

It is really important when solving mysteries to go with your intuition. If there was enough hard evidence available, a professional would already have worked it out. If there is an opportunity for an amateur sleuth to get involved, you will have to work with less solid clues. And gut feelings.

Professionals may require hard evidence and on-the-record witness statements. But you’re just trying to solve a mystery. You don’t need to prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt. Hearsay, informal chats, and a bit of eavesdropping, are all good sources of information. Being a good listener is your most important skill. 

Remember, a cup of tea and a chat has solved many a fictional case. Coffee shops are great for this. They are also good places for making lists. And for discussing developments with your friend.

Rule 3: Be wary of coincidences

Coincidences are never just coincidences. 

You have either uncovered corroborating evidence, or a fake clue has been planted to throw you off the scent. Either way, it is related to the mystery. You just need to work out how.

Rule 4: Be nosy

You may get the feeling that someone you have talked to is hiding something. It might not have anything to do with the case. But you won’t know until you’ve found out what it is. 

This is the part that often leads to a dangerous situation. Ask your friend to loiter nearby in case a rescue is needed. Coffee shops are excellent places to loiter.

(Be aware you may temporarily lose a not-so-close friend while following this rule. Don’t worry, they usually forgive and forget once the mystery is solved.)

Rule 5: Verify your findings

Evidence can sometimes be interpreted in different ways. You will need to ensure you are interpreting it correctly. You can corroborate your evidence by checking each clue fits with the other clues. 

People will give false information. Use your phone to look up information online to verify what you’ve been told. Remember, don’t trust what anyone tells you without checking it. Unless it’s your mother. Or your close friend.

In summary

If you want to solve a mystery you will need to:-

Be prepared. Embrace your intuition. Investigate coincidences. Pry into things that are none of your business. Look for clues that fit together. And always know where the nearest coffee shop is located.

OK, amateur sleuths, you are ready to go. Now you just need to wait for a mystery to drop into your lap. Which seems to happen more often than you might expect!

Enjoyed this post?

You can leave your own mystery-solving tips in the comments or…

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