Footprints*

Confessions of a Mystery Novelist...

One of the first rules when there’s a crime is that the crime scene is not to be disturbed until it’s assessed. There are good reasons for that, too, as details about a crime scene can give valuable information about who the criminal is. Today’s technology allows for assessments such as DNA studies, blood analysis, and so on. But there are also basics, too, such as footprints.

Footprints can play a key role in an investigation, even today. And they certainly have in the past. They’re important in crime fiction, too. The author can use footprints to either guide the sleuth (and the reader) or misdirect.

In Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, for instance, footprints of what looks like a giant hound are used as evidence that Sir Charles Baskerville fell victim to a family curse. It’s said that the Baskervilles have been cursed by a…

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