What does a yoga instructor, a witch, a burglar, a birdwatcher, a math teacher, a 12th century friar, a bookseller, a museum curator, and a very clever cat have in common? If your first guess wasn't that they solve murders then I'd like to officially welcome you to the wonderful world of the amateur sleuth. You need to know I could have used wacky, wild, weird, occasionally waggish, and warped (I was in an alliterative mood) and been equally accurate.
Let's begin with the obvious. Amateur Sleuth Mysteries are from the get-go mysteries. They lead off with a crime, present victims, catalogue suspects and clues, have a few twists and red herrings, and eventually arrive at a solution. Bad guys get their comeuppance.
For this article, because of its limited space we're only going to consider a few of the unique aspects of the amateur sleuth mystery.
First, how to get, say, a stamp collector gets involved in a murder investigation.
A Bartender—we learn a bit about mixology. How the heck does one make the perfect chocolate martini, harvey wallbanger, or rude bastard?
A Wrangler at a Dude Ranch—we learn about the shoeing of horses, perhaps the pre-dawn birthing of a foal.
A Rare Book Dealer—we learn about the ins and outs of the book auction, maybe the history of an actual rare manuscript of Dante or Oscar Wilde.
An Historical Mathematician—we delve into the eccentric world of medieval or ancient mathematicians, maybe look over their shoulder as they make an important discovery.
A Burglar—What locks are the hardest to pick? How does one go about fencing precious stones? What equipment is necessary to be a second-story man (or woman)?