Common Genre/Uncommon Perspectives by By Gayl Siegel

3 min readJul 8, 2023

Common Genre/Uncommon Perspectives

By Gayl Siegel

I’ve often been asked “Why did you write a murder mystery?”

For starters, I love to read murder mysteries. I cut my teeth on Agatha Christie novels and Sherlock Holmes stories starting at age twelve, and since then have plowed my way through pretty much any series that caught my eye at the library.

This love of mysteries was something I shared with my mom, and we would compare notes on what we liked and disliked. These discussions led to my first novel, Blood Stained, the first in the Madalyn Mitchell Mystery series, and they continue to fuel my plans for further installments.

Primarily I wanted to write something to entertain, as I have been entertained. And, although much has been written on the murder mystery, its predictable forms and ideal setting for a puzzle of the mind, I often thought there was something lacking in most mysteries. I wanted to address a few unique aspects in my own mysteries.

First, most murder mysteries end with the discovery of “Whodunnit”. I sometimes thought, “But we’re not done yet.” I wanted to look beyond that point. What happens to the murderer, not just legally, but spiritually? How does the murder change the murder victim’s family, the murderer’s family, and the others who are involved?

Secondly, I wanted to explore a unique setting. What if a murder happened in a church and surrounding community? There are many mysteries written with a pastor/priest protagonist (Father Brown, Brother Cadfael, Stephen Grant) but not many from the point of view of the pastor’s wife.

I am a pastor’s daughter and a pastor’s wife. The life of a pastor’s family is both a fishbowl and a mysterious unknown to the rest of the world. The pastor’s wife is both a regular member of the congregation, and a separate entity. She lives life in the shadow of the church, sometimes literally.

In Blood Stained, Madalyn Mitchell lives a quiet happy life, which revolves around her children, her husband, and his parish. Her friends are her small-town neighbors, a friendly bunch of basically good people. But when a murdered man is found with nothing but a church bulletin in his pocket, the investigation into potential motives brings old sins to light. Maddy sees her friends, neighbors, and fellow church members in a different light, and most disturbing is the inescapable conclusion that one of them might very well be the murderer.

The final perspective is something distinctly found in the church. A good murder mystery obviously focuses on justice, but what about forgiveness? What will Maddy do with the newfound knowledge about her neighbors? What about the murderer? Can murder be forgiven even while justice is done?

I hope my readers will be entertained as they cozy up to a good mystery with unique perspectives.

By Gayl Siegel

The Windsor Heights Book Fair is happy to have Gayl Siegel added to the 2nd Annual Windsor Heights Book Fair on October 1st, from 12–6 PM featuring two dozen local authors with a free will donation to a local food bank. The Windsor Heights Book Fair hopes to grow through promoting local authors by combating hunger in Iowa. Please check out Gayl Siegel at the link below and the many authors coming together on the first Sunday in October to combat hunger.