Okay folks, trying to be more forthright here.
what do you guys think of the use of flashbacks in a crime novel? in my novel a high priced model/prostitute is murdered. her murder is investigated. creeps crawling out of the woodwork. her sister wants to set everybody straight including the P. I. she's given up on the cops and the newspaper reporters. someone's feeding the P. I. with fantastic leads; (not the sister) she's never seen the stuff! letters, photos--and he's finding things aren't as black and white they seem. in a series of scaled down only pertinent flashbacks I want to bring out the dead woman's true self maybe before she started to fall--this then starts to turn the investigation on its head but eventually leads to a confrontation with the murderer--and so on!

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I've stuck with first person, present tense - except for the big chunk of book three where it is past tense, but works its way back to present tense.

At the moment I'm working on a stand alone that is third person, past tense, but from three different characters' point of view. That's been fun.
you're good. i admire you because, i would find it hard. but then again, your published!
I'm going to be different and say that flashbacks can be useful in a crime story -- if done correctly.

Flashbacks shouldn't continue on for pages and pages. A couple of lines or maybe a paragraph or two. I used the occasional flashback in my first novel to develop character relationships (mainly a romantic subplot) and reveal info about a character's past that was necessary for the story to move forward. Forward motion is the most important part to remember about flashbacks. I tend to think of flashbacks in this manner:

Character A is driving a car to the Destination, which is the end of the book and solution to the mystery. The road is filled with other cars and characters traveling to the same Destination. Character A must arrive before any of the others. Therefore, Character A must occasionally drift into the left lane and pass some of the other cars, but before changing lanes, Character A may want to consider checking the rear view mirrors. A quick glance is all it takes and then Character A's attention returns to the road in front of him/her.

If you feel that a flashback is necessary for the story to move forward, allow the character a quick glance (rear view mirror) and then get back to the current situation.

There's my 2 cents on the subject, for what they're worth. Good luck! :)
not two cents at all! heartfelt, wise advice coming from someone who is PUBLISHED! i agree. not pages and pages. thanks! great analogy. sank in!


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