Either Way I Lose*

Confessions of a Mystery Novelist...

Some choices are easy enough to make. But some are very difficult, especially when both of the options involved lead to very negative consequences. Those ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ decisions can cause a lot of anxiety and tension. And that’s part of what makes them so effective in a story.

When a character is faced with one of those ‘no win’ choices, this can add a layer of character development. It can also add to the suspense, as the character works through the options and has to take a decision.

Honoria Bulstrode is faced with such a choice in Agatha Christie’s Cat Among the Pigeons. She is headmistress of Meadowbank, an exclusive girls’ school. One summer term, the school is rocked by several tragedies. First, the new games mistress, Grace Springer, is murdered late one night. Then there’s a kidnapping. And another murder. As you…

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