MUSINGS OF A STORY MERCHANT

Monday, May 28, 2012

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF MYSTERIES


  Mystery Scene Magazine


by Oline Cogdill 
palumbo_feverdream

As a Hollywood screenwriter, Dennis Palumbo credits include My Favorite Year (one of my favorites) and Welcome Back, Kotter.

Palumbo is now a licensed psychotherapist and author of Fever Dream and Mirror Image, mysteries that naturally use psychology. Palumbo's novels center around Dr. Daniel Rinaldi, a psychologist who consults with the Pittsburgh Police. His specialty is treating those who are traumatized because they were victims of violent crime.

Mystery readers will find much food for thought in one of Palumbo's recent column "Hollywood on the Couch" for Psychology Today. Here, Palumbo maintains that characters, more than clues, are what we remember from mysteries written for the movies and TV.

What he says, also goes for the printed word.

As Palumbo says, "In the movie version of The Lincoln Lawyer, what was the mistake Ryan Phillippe made that proved he was guilty?"

Or, he asks, "In the more recent film, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, what led Blomkvist to identify the serial killer?"

Palumbo doesn't remember, and, even though I loved both novels and films, neither do I.

For me, it's also the characters who live on long past some red herring has been dangled in front of me.

For me, it's also the characters who keep me coming back to a series, or praising a book, or, yes, giving a negative review.

Palumbo shows the meaning of this quote by Michael Connelly who said "The best mysteries are about the mystery of character."

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