We Keep to Ourselves*

Confessions of a Mystery Novelist...

Today’s technology has meant that it’s possible to communicate with nearly anyone, nearly anywhere. But it wasn’t so long ago that families could be very insular, having little contact with anyone who wasn’t a member of the family. Even with modern communication, there are still some families that keep to themselves.

Everyone needs a different amount of social contact, but most experts agree that it’s important for mental health to have some outside contact. Families that are too turned in on themselves can become dysfunctional. And that can have all sorts of consequences. Certainly, it can in crime fiction.

For instance, in Agatha Christie’s Appointment With Death, we are introduced to the Boynton family. Mrs. Boynton, the family matriarch, is tyrannical and malicious. In fact, she has her family so much under her thumb that no-one dares to refuse her even the slightest request. Her three stepchildren, Lennox, Carol…

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