Good Guys and Bad Guys? The Tangled (Cob)Web

Every mystery contains a mix of story people. As a reader in the midst of a mystery, you should never feel quite sure that a character is completely good or bad. Just like real people, story people are both. Story people struggle internally. In some, the bad is more evident, usually in their dialogue and their actions. Likewise, good is usually very visible. But what we ‘see’ on the surface is not always the true nature of the people in stories, just like within our own families.

At one point in Cobwebs, the Osage attorney Sam Mazie says, “Do we ever really know anybody – what they’re thinking or feeling? Even when they speak to us about things, we can never really know if that’s the truth.”

“. . . if that’s the truth . . .”

People lie, don’t they? If real people lie, story people can lie. Sometimes they are REAL lies, with someone saying something that absolutely positively is not true. Sometimes characters tweak the truth, sometimes they tell a little ‘white’ lie. Sometimes they err in the retelling of something that happened. Sometimes they gossip.

In real life, we often never know about the lies. In fiction, the lies are most usually revealed by the end of the story, when the bad guy(s) are revealed.

I’m not going to spoil the read for those of you who have not read Cobwebs by revealing the liars in the story. Actually, the problem with the characters in Cobwebs is not so much that they lie – it’s that they neglect to tell certain things that could have been very useful for Jamie to know.

Throughout the month I’ve been talking a lot about the characters and the setting and the plot of characters. What about the lies? Here’s a sampling of what someone may be lying about in Cobwebs.

  • Aunt Elizabeth’s personal history.
  • Jamie’s experience the summer she was 12.
  • The condition of the heater in Elizabeth’s house.
  • Where the stray dog Queenie came from.
  • Why her mother will not talk to Jamie about family history.
  • Who Trudy is in Aunt Elizabeth’s life.

If you’ve read the book, you know the answer to those questions. If you haven’t read Cobwebs, I hope you’ll be intrigued and get a copy!

More Cobwebs – Reboot! this Friday, and the final entry on Monday.

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