Posted by: nancycurteman | December 10, 2013

Add a Twist to Your Mystery: Stage Your Crime Scenes

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th-1You can add a complex twist to your mystery novel by staging your crime scenes. Simply put, a staged crime scene refers to an alteration of the physical evidence at the crime location or misleading witness comments meant to simulate events that did not occur. The objective of crime scene staging is to make the murder scene appear to be something it isn’t thereby leading your sleuth and your readers on a merry chase in the wrong direction.

Crime scene staging can be done in a variety of ways such as manipulation of the physical evidence, including a change of position of weapons or bodies; falsifying injuries or planting additional evidence. Here are some ways to introduce crime scene staging into your mystery novel:

• Place a firearm in the hand of a murder victim to make it look like he committed suicide.

• Remove the murder victim’s body to a secondary crime scene to throw your sleuth off track. Throw the victim into a lake or off a cliff to make it look like an accidental death.

• Show forced entry such as a broken window or door lock to make the scene look like a homicide during a burglary.

• Have the murderer claim he saw a strange man holding a gun over the dead body.

• Add incriminating items to the crime scene: letters, pictures, messages or symbols painted on walls or mirrors.

• Stage a fire to cover a previous murder.

• Remove the murder weapon from the scene.

• Remove incriminating evidence from the crime scene—clean up blood, wipe away fingerprints, sweep away footprints.

Have your sleuth review, examine and consider the staged crime scene closely to determine plausibility. Your readers will also set to work trying to unlock the puzzle. Don’t make it an easy task, but do provide final success.

More Tips:
Crime Scene Investigation Strategies For the Mystery Writer
How to Write “Killer” Scenes in a Mystery Novel


  1. Good tips, NC. We watched Jack Reacher recently ~ good twist to the murder that our “sleuth” had to figure out.

    The Mentalist also had an interesting twist on the murder/kidnapping on Sunday night.

    I like it when it isn’t obvious at first glance . . . but can be figured out based on the clues provided.


    • I’m also a Mentalist fan. I’ve read some of the Jack Reacher books and I enjoy his surprises. However, I couldn’t quite see Tom Cruise playing Reacher in the film.


      • I haven’t read any of the Jack Reacher books.

        I read a few reviews written by people who didn’t think Cruise was the right pick for Reacher ~ after seeing the film, they decided he’d done well in the role.


  2. Jack Reacher is a really big guy. Tom Cruise is quite short. That’s one reason I had trouble imagining him in the role.


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