Monthly Archives: January 2017

Don’t kill the dog!


HOW COULD YOU??? By Gilliamhome’s Olympus E3 and Evolt 500 Page – Flickr: Hoss, CC BY 2.0,

I was reading a book the other night where the hero adopts a puppy. Then the worst thing ever happens – the dog dies. And not just dies, but is gruesomely murdered by the killer as a message to the hero.


It should be the first rule of writing. DON’T KILL THE DOG.

It makes me less anxious to read anything else by this author. Will he kill more dogs? I don’t want to take the chance.

I was telling a writer friend about this, and we decided there should be universal writing rules, regardless of genre.

  1. Don’t kill the dog.
  2. Don’t make the entire story turn out to be a dream. (A la Dallas, for those of you who remember.)
  3. Sex scenes must be physically possible to replicate.

There are other rules that apply to the mystery genre in particular – you can’t introduce the killer at the end of the book, you can’t have the crime solved by intuition. But across genres, I think these three rules are a fine starting point.

What other rules are there? What do you HATE to see a writer do? What makes you stop reading?


Filed under Books, Writing

What I’m reading now: The Enzo Macleod Mysteries

Reading_glasses.jpg (1863×1401)

Public domain. Wikimedia Commons.

When I travel, I like to visit the local bookstores. I’ve found some great stuff in UK bookstores that I’d never find in the US. This past summer, I came across a mystery series written about a Scottish forensic biologist, Enzo Macleod. The author’s name is Peter May. I bought the first two in the series.

I hadn’t gotten around to reading the first one – Extraordinary People – until now. I was disappointed to find that the books don’t actually take place in Scotland, but in France. Enzo Macleod has moved to France and is teaching at a university. It’s not that I don’t like books set in France. I just like books set in Scotland better. 😀

But other than that, it was terrific. Macleod has bet some local officials that he can use new forensic techniques to solve old crimes. A reporter has published a book about the seven most famous unsolved murders in France, and the bet is that Macleod can solve them. The first unsolved murder was of a well-known political figure and TV personality. At least, it’s assumed he was murdered – the body was never found. Macleod’s quest takes him all over France, and the story kept me guessing until the end.

I’m about to begin the second in the series, The Critic. The victim in this case was a wine critic. That’s all I know so far.

If you enjoy a well-plotted mystery with well-drawn characters, regardless of where it takes place, you’ll enjoy these.


Filed under Books, Travel