Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Let's Twist Again



HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: So, first. Have you voted? Are you voting? The Reds are relying on it, so do that. And tonight, we'll all be watching the returns, hoping for--good and reassuring news. Knowing  knowing that some where some time there'll be a surprise. In a novel, we'd call it--a twist! 

And that makes what Jon Land is thinking about today perfect. We can talk twists!  His new Jessica Fletcher  book MANUSCRIPT FOR MURDER is out today. Yay. It's his  second book since taking over the MURDER, SHE WROTE series, and it features a twist ending. (Jon says I can tell you that.)  Many of his other books do, too.

Are you a fan of the twist? (Stop singing, I can hear you.) Jon thinks his twist-affection was born in his earliest days...and the love of the twist has only gotten stronger.  He's even offering his top twisty movies..see what you think!

   by Jon Land



Call it the influence of The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents on me when I was growing up. But I’ve long found nothing more satisfying than a jaw dropping reveal that sticks with you long after you first found your heart in your mouth. So in honor of that, and my own stab at such in MANUSCRIPT FOR MURDER, here’s a list of some of the greatest twist endings ever.

((HANK: oh, ed note: spoilers lurk ahead. But you HAVE seen or read all of these, right? If not, start watching (or reading) right after you vote. Okay, Jon, take it away.))  

THE USUAL SUSPECTS: The moment when Chazz Palminteri’s customs agent Dave Kujan drops his coffee cup after studying the back-office wall Kevin Spacey’s Verbal Kint has been facing for much of the movie remains the benchmark against which all other shocking twists will be compared. Outside, as Verbal completes his incredible metamorphosis into Keyser Soze, we realize we’ve been conned; that the metaphorical devil isn’t just real, he’s loose. It was right there in front of us the whole time but, like all great twists, we never saw it coming.

THE SIXTH SENSE:  Everyone seems to have a different moment when they realized Bruce Willis was one of the dead people Haley Joel Osment’s tortured young boy could see, but whenever that might’ve been it’s sure to have sent a chill sliding up your spine. The later the better, of course, because figuring it out too early is like getting the punch line before the joke is finished. M. Night Shyamalan’s brilliant misdirection makes us think we saw things that weren’t there, concealing the twist, for most anyway, until much closer to the end than the beginning.

THE STING: The film’s director George Roy Hill famously said that you can’t make a movie about con men without conning the audience. Well, all great twist endings are cons but this one was wondrously elaborate and a straight kick in the pants to those in the audience convinced they had everything figured out. Making us think the heroes are dead only to reveal they’re not makes for the perfect finish to a perfect film, much imitated but never equaled.

ARLINGTON ROAD: The sleeper in the group. Since relatively few know the movie, so no spoilers here. I’ll just say that the film’s slow, relentlessly suspenseful build makes us think we’re watching one thing when we’re actually watching something else entirely. I saw the film in a crowded theater and the moment in the end when a character says to Jeff Bridges’ tortured terrorism professor, “Michael, the only one who doesn’t belong here is you,” you could feel the audience lose its collective breath. A stunner that sticks with you long after you leave the theater.

THE CHASER: The classic short story by John Collier remains a subtle study in inevitability, all show and no tell since it’s comprised almost entirely of dialogue. A young man who enters a potion shop gets considerably more than he bargains for—at least he will eventually—after purchasing for mere pennies an elixir that will make the woman of his dreams love him. The twist lies in the fact that the price is so low because those who purchase it always come back for the chaser of the title: a much more expensive, and deadly, potion held in a different case. The young man never realizes that, of course, even when the professorial figure behind the counter bids him farewell with “Au revoir.” Until we meet again.

THE GLASS EYE: This installment so typical of Alfred Hitchcock Presents features a penny-pinching, lonely woman who finds herself obsessed with a ravishing ventriloquist for the joy he brings into her life. Wanting to prolong the feeling, she begs to meet her crush, leading to a shattering denouement no one could possibly have seen coming. Ever the master of misdirection in his films, Hitchcock similarly relished leaving us utterly shocked in the short form penned by the likes of Academy Award winner Sterling Silliphant.

TO SERVE MAN: The brilliant Rod Serling’s ending is right there in the title of this titular Twilight Zone episode, thanks to the double meaning that nobody sees or gets, not until the moment when the episode’s hero is boarding a space ship bound for a distant planet along with the rest of the world’s top leaders. The title actually refers to a book one of the aliens leaves behind to tempt and taunt the world. And its translation should have been obvious, but wasn’t.

DEMON WITH THE GLASS HAND: The classic Harlan Ellison penned Outer Limits episode features a lone human at war with aliens amid a sprawling warehouse complex while trying to find the missing fingers to complete his glass hand. Each finger brings that computerized appendage closer to explaining who he is and what he’s doing there. But the reveal imparted when the final finger is in place is one we never could have seen coming and is all the more perfect as a result.

THE SWIMMER: The brilliant short story by John Cheever, made into a surreal film by Frank Perry, features a super successful businessman on a shattering odyssey through affluent suburbia, uncovering the truth about his past, and present, through dips in his neighbors’ backyard pools as he makes his way home. It’s a slow burn that ignites in a final flashpoint when the character of Ned Merrill (played brilliantly in the film by Burt Lancaster) finally gets back to his house on the hill.

MEMENTO: Few films have ever come together better in the final moment than Christopher Nolan’s ground-breaking shocker about a man whose short-term memory only extends five or so minutes. He tattoos cue cards all over his body to keep track of his life, which doesn’t stop everyone he meets from conning him. Then, in the final fadeout, he cons himself to the pitch perfect voiceover (for a film that unveils in reverse fashion), “Where was I?”

Those are my choices. What about yours? Leave your suggestion(s) in the comments and I’ll respond with my thoughts!

HANK: Oh! This is SUCH fun. I will never forget that Twilight Zone. And the one with the guy with the glasses. And monsters on maple street. Ah.  And a good twist does not only have to come at the end, right? Clare Mackintosh's wonderful I Let You Go has one, and my Trust Me. More I cannot say. 

 But what do you think, reds and readers? Favorite twist endings, or middles? And do you want to know when a movie or book has a twist? 



Jessica Fletcher investigates a mysterious manuscript with deadly consequences in the latest entry in this USA Todaybestselling series...

Jessica Fletcher has had plenty to worry about over her storied career, both as a bestselling novelist and amateur sleuth. But she never had any reason to worry about her longtime publisher, Lane Barfield, who also happens to be a trusted friend. When mounting evidence of financial malfeasance leads to an FBI investigation of Lane, Jessica can't believe what she's reading.

So when Barfield turns up dead, Jessica takes on the task of proving Barfield's innocence--she can't fathom someone she's known and trusted for so long cheating her. Sure enough, Jessica's lone wolf investigation turns up several oddities and inconsistencies in Barfield's murder. Jessica knows something is being covered up, but what exactly? The trail she takes to answer that question reveals something far more nefarious afoot, involving shadowy characters from the heights of power in Washington. At the heart of Jessica's investigation lies a manuscript Barfield had intended to bring out after all other publishers had turned it down. The problem is that manuscript has disappeared, all traces of its submission and very existence having been wiped off the books.

With her own life now in jeopardy, Jessica refuses to back off and sets her sights on learning the contents of that manuscript and what about it may have led to several murders. Every step she takes brings her closer to the truth of what lies in the pages, as well as the person who penned them.
Jon Land

Jon Land is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of 45 books, including nine titles in the critically acclaimed Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong series, the most recent of which, STRONG TO THE BONE, won both the 2017 American Book Fest and 2018 International Book Award for Best Mystery. The next title in the series, STRONG AS STEEL, will be published in April. MANUSCRIPT FOR marks his second effort writing as Jessica Fletcher for the MURDER, SHE WROTE series, and he has also teamed with Heather Graham for a new sci-fi series starting with THE RISING. He is a 1979 graduate of Brown University, lives in Providence, Rhode Island and can be reached at jonlandbooks.com  or on Twitter @jondland.


Twitter: @jondland



139 comments:

  1. Happy Book Birthday, Jon! I love “Murder, She Wrote” and I’m looking forward to reading Jessica’s latest adventure . . .

    Oh, I really enjoy a twisty story. I loved watching “The Outer Limits” and “Night Gallery” and “The Twilight Zone” . . . remember Burgess Meredith finally gathering all the books he now has time to read . . . and his glasses are broken?

    As for films, “Orphan” has a pretty clever twist . . . the adopted child isn’t a child at all . . .

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    1. Yes, that’s exactly the one I was talking about! So creepy. And I have not seen Orphan! What is it?

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    2. “Orphan” is a creepy horror film from 2009 . . . after losing their baby, a couple adopts nine-year-old Esther from Russia. But the murderous child nearly destroys their family. The “twist” is that the girl is actually a thirty-three-year-old woman who suffers from a growth disorder . . . .

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    3. Joan: Wow, that TWILIGHT ZONE episode was called TIME ENOUGH AT LAST. I forgot who wrote it but it might have been Richard Mathiewson. THE INVADERS starring Agnes Morehead was another classic, along with EYE OF THE BEHOLDER, the classic written by Serling himself. Serling, by the way, also wrote the screenplay for PLANET OF THE APES and we now what a great twist ending that film had. Great call on ORPHAN. Check out THE BOY if you liked that one. Oh, and my personal favorite NIGHT GALLERY twists were EYES and BOOMERANG. Definitely worth checking out!

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    1. Oh riiiight! Don’t you still think about that one?

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    2. Ha-ha! I still remember that shattering twist in the end with Charlton Heston screaming "Soylent Green is __________!" Was that Edward G. Robinson's final film?

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  3. Contrarian here: #TrustMe, I'll take a twist in the story if it's clever (and Hank's is super smart), but, truthfully, I'd rather have a steady build into which I can lose myself with the characters. That's why I read: for the characters, whom I grow to like and want to spend time with. Over and over again.

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    1. I love your description Amanda, that's my preference too--a steady build in the characters' lives! Though I just finished COLD EARTH by Ann Cleeves and she manages to both build the characters and twist brilliantly...

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    2. Well, when an author can do both, Lucy, it's fabulous. Thanks for the recommendation of Cold Earth. Will check it out.

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    3. Oh, thank ypu! And #TrustMe— that twist was a surprised me, too… Since I don’t use an outline, I was so surprised when those three things happened!

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    4. Excellent point, Amanda, and I didn't mean to suggest that all stories require twist endings. And, by the way, some of my favorite endings are more rooted irony like Hawthorne's classic short story "Rappacinni's Daughter," which along with John Cheever's THE SWIMMER (see above) are probably my favorite short stories of all time.

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  4. I loved The Usual Suspects and never saw the twist coming. As for The Sixth Sense, that one got spoiled for me by a movie magazine I subscribed to at the time the movie was about to be released on DVD (Yep, I never got to the theater to see the movie).


    A twist ending is fine with me so long as it is earned and not just tacked on at the end to be "different". Otherwise I would prefer my books to feature a more linear storyline with a regular beginning, middle and end.


    I loved Jon's 1st Murder She Wrote book so I'm looking forward to Book 2 as well. I don't know what author appearances Jon might be doing overall, but I know that he's scheduled to appear at the Rhode Island Author Expo on December 1st in Cranston, RI. I'm hoping I can get to the event.


    No surprise here that I'm a huge fan of Jon's writing. Whenever I do get to attend one of his signings I always ask the same question so I feel in order to keep up the "tradition" I have to ask the following, "Jon, do you think there will ever be a new Kamal/Barnea book?"

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    1. Jon will be so thrilled to see this! Jay, you are great.

      And the movie is still good even if you know the twist, it’s fun to watch and see how he pulled it off. I still love watching it, even when I know...

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    2. Always great to hear from my good friend Jay who's been with me, like, forever! Yes, I'll be at the big Rhode Island authors event on December 1. Other films to consider for great twist endings I didn't include above: IDENTITY, JACOB'S LADDER, THE GAME, and, of course, FIGHT CLUB. Anybody see that one coming? Any comments on these films?

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    3. I saw The Game, assuming that's the one with Michael Douglas. I know it was a twist but the funny thing about my reaction to that movie was if I had someone do what was done to him, I'd have quite literally killed him.

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    4. The best twists, like all the ones I've listed above, hold up upon multiple viewings and defy attempts to demean their impact. THE GAME is more manipulative and, frankly, contrived in comparison to the others. But it was David Fincher at his best and was truly creepy.

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  5. Jon, will you please tell us more about the process of writing the Murder She Wrote books? so curious about that!

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    1. Thanks for the great question, Lucy. Funny but nobody's asked me that before. First off, I don't outline, preferring to write by the seat of my pants. That works great for thrillers, a bit less so for mysteries since I have to go back into the text frequently to update my thinking and revise on the fly. That said, it's great fun not knowing what Jessica's going to figure out next. Since she's my co-writer, I rely a lot on her powers of observation to steer me in the right direction. I think the best surprises are the ones that surprise us as writers too. Because if I didn't know what was coming, how can you as the reader? What I find fascinating is how easily I've taken to Jessica's narrative voice, how quickly I've come to know her. Lucy, I think the most important thing about the process from the get-go was that I didn't try to just clone the Jessica from all the past books. I took ownership of the series and let her be herself and handle most of the heavy lifting.

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  6. And Jon is not just satisfied with taking over one iconic series… But more I cannot say. Maybe he can!

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    1. That's right, Hank, and let's break some news. I'm also going to be taking over Margaret Truman's CAPITAL CRIMES series and the first thing I'm going to do is go back to the original branding that made this such a consistent bestselling series. In other goes back to the title theme of MURDER IN or AT someplace. Right now, I'm playing around with MURDER IN THE ADMIRAL'S HOUSE, which is the vice president's residence at the Naval Observatory. The book opens with the death of the vice president that turns out to be a murder because of something he has uncovered or was involved in. Don't ask me anything else at this point because that's literally all I know!

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    2. So what Jon is really saying is that he's getting me to spend even more money on his work. :D

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    3. It's a dirty job, but somebody's gotta do it!

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    4. I'll note that when facing the bankruptcy court judge..."Your Honor, it's all Jon Land's fault!"

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  7. Jon, what a great list! I just realized I have several of your books, not yet read, in Mt. TBR here. I need to get cracking.

    Catriona MacPherson's The Day She Died has a twist, and of course so does Gone Girl. What about the twist in Body Heat? So memorable, and so evil.

    By the way, great discussion yesterday, Hank!

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    1. Oh, thank you… Yes, it turned out to be very thought-provoking. I have to admit, I was haunted by the question. Still am. Xxxx

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    2. Karen, the twist at the end of BODY HEAT, classic steamy film noir, is indeed a classic. You'll see something like it in my next MURDER, SHE WROTE effort, MURDER IN RED. Be curious what you think of the twist at the end of MANUSCRIPT FOR MURDER when Jessica finally reveals the identity of the author who penned the deadly manuscript. On a side note, I'm surprised nobodoy's mentioned Shirley Jackson's THE LOTTERY yet!

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  8. I am obsessed with twists in books and movies. Like Hank, I loved the middle of the novel twist in I LET YOU GO. I was also a huge fan of the reveals in e. lockhart's YA novel, WE WERE LIARS and the YA masterpiece BELZHAR by Meg Wolitzer. I think Erin Kelly provided some stunning crime fiction twist moments - in both THE BURNING AIR and HE SAID/SHE SAID.

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    1. How could I forget HE SAID/SHE SAID! And THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW

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    2. Oh , Kristopher, I gasped when I read that! I couldn’t believe it… Such a good job. And I loved the woman in the window, too, although I could see that twist on mile away. Could you?

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    3. Ann, I have not read he said/she said. I have it somewhere…

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    4. I agree that the twist in THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW as pretty well telegraphed, mainly because I read so much domestic suspense, but I still enjoyed the book.

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    5. Hank you must read he said/she said

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    6. Kristopher, I'm embarrassed to say I'm not familiar with any of the examples that you cite. Something to consider in film is that the power and effectiveness of the visual associated with the reveal. Think of the moment in THE USUAL SUSPECTS where Chazz Palminteri drops his coffee cup which proceeds to shatter on the floor from a variety of angles, clueing us in on the fact that something big is coming.

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  9. Happy Book Birthday!

    I love a twist at the end. Kudos Hank, on TRUST ME. The twist I anticipated twisted back on me even though I knew the back story.

    Catriona McPherson's latest has a great twist too, which I won't talk about in case you haven't read it. I think that historically REBECCA had a fabulous twist, still haunts me even though by now everyone knows how it ends. Same with GIRL ON THE TRAIN and GONE GIRL. And another rather horrifying twist, again from Catriona, is the creche scene in REEK OF RED HERRINGS. And there there's ALMOST SISTERS, by Joshilyn Jackson. I did have this one figured out before the final reveal but still and all, it's delightful.

    I just finished watching ORDEAL BY INNOCENCE, a remake of the Agatha Christie classic. Talk about a twisted plot! It almost, but now quite, outdoes THE ORIENT EXPRESS, in almost, but not quite, the same way. I watched it by myself last week, and started it again last night, watching with Julie.

    For another incredible TV twist, by all means watch INSIDE NUMBER 9 on BBC. It's the same writers and rep company from LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN, and just as upsetting. Try it. Trust me. I am a nurse.

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    1. What is inside number nine? I have never heard of that! We are in the midst of bodyguard… Which is also terrific.

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    2. We’ve started Bodyguard. Inside Number 9 is a series of vignettes, each with a terrific twist. Not for the faint of heart. BBC. On both BritBox and prime too now

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    3. Ann, you've highlighted the fact that this is the perfect conversation to be having today given the great twist at the end of Hank's TRUST ME. And, speaking of great TV twists, I haven't been able to use the artificial sweetener Stevia since one of the final reveals on BREAKING BAD--that phone call from Walter White to the woman he needs to get rid of. "Not feeling too good, are you?" I think is the way the conversation starts.

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  10. I am a fan of twists, though as others have said, only if everything else about the book or movie is solid as well. I vividly remember the Twilight Zone episode with the glasses, too, and To Serve Man. Another one that left a big impression on me is seen through the eyes of a patient who gets plastic surgery, and the doctors and nurses all have these horrible scary faces -- I distinctly remember them all having snouts, for one thing. In the end she is told they are sorry, the surgery was unsuccessful and they can't do anything to improve her looks, and we see that she is, by our standards, a beautiful woman.

    Right after I read Hank's wonderful "Trust Me", I read Riley Sager's "The Last Time I Lied". It also features a protagonist who has been through a horrible trauma. The book proceeds through several twists before coming to a very satisfying, twisty ending.

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    1. No, thank you Susan! I love love love hearing this. And yes, I remember the surgery twilight zone, so creepy. And how about the one where the patient sees everyone as their spirit animals? Remember? Her husband is a snake, or something?

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    2. Besides to rep group, the only connection in the vignettes is the address, Number 9. May be a house, apartment, business, etc. watch in any order

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    3. Great minds think alike, Susan--you'll notice that I mentioned that ZONE episode, EYE OF THE BEHOLDER, above! So many great twists in that show. We could probably do a whole conversation like this one on that show alone. And I'm glad somebody above mentioned the original OUTER LIMITS. Was there anyone who wasn't scared when the screen goes fuzzy and the Control Voice says in a droll monotone, "There is nothing wrong with your television set." Anyone who's never seen DEMON WITH A GLASS HAND should definitely check it out! I don't remember the spirit animal episode, though.

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  11. I love a good authentic twist, that is, one that flows out of the story. I was fairly young when I saw "The Sting," and that one floored me at the time. We're watching "Daredevil" on Netflix right now, and they had a fairly good one in episode 8.

    But please, don't do a twist for twist's sake. That feels forced and lame.

    Mary/Liz

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    1. Agreed! I have read books that have one too many twists, too, haven’t you?

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    2. Mary, you are so, so right! Twists, especially twist endings, must be organic to the story, not forced into the close just for the sake of having one.

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    3. Hank, yes! Like one twist (wow!), second, (ooo, that was clever), third (okaaay), fourth (this is stupid)...

      Like the writer is throwing every twist possible into the story, whether or not it makes sense.

      Mary/Liz

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  12. Happy Book Birthday Jon! And to those of you who have posted all these great suggestions, I'm going to be working off this list for quite some time. I had to sort of skip through Jon's post as I had only seen the first few of his all time favs.

    It's early here in CA, about 5:25 am. I'm going to finish my coffee, get dressed, and then VOTE!

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    1. Yay, Lydia! And oh, you are going to have so much fun catching up!

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    2. Thanks, Lydia, and I'll be going out to vote in a couple hours.

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  13. First, you have all inspired me to watch The Sting again! It's been a lot of years and I must bring my more analytic eye to it. Next,how to write about great twists without spoilers? Let's see if I can.One that truly blew me away is Tana French's Faithful Place. She set up it thoroughly so the likeliest character was not the villain. And the final twist is not that he is but! Masterful. (Stopping there). And there is an older historical, by one of the greats, where the murder being investigated did not happen at all. And she pulls it off until the very end. (If you want to know more, contact me off line? triss@nyc.rr.com) One of my all time favorite mysteries. Now, off to vote! And help at an election day bake sale for immigrant family help. And write.

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    1. Triss, here's another you just made me think of: THE LYING GAME!

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    2. Just listened to Faithful Place on our car trip. Yes!

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    3. Hank, sent to your e-mail. And all this reminds me I must go order Trust Me(since it is clear that we can't. :-) )

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  14. Hi, Jon! Welcome to Jungle Red and kudoes to your Jessica Fletcher-ness. And of course, curious minds, dying to know how the 'collaboration' works.

    My favorite twisty movie: Diabolique (the *body* in the bathtub)

    I don't even want to know that there IS a twist because then I watch it looking for it. It's a reason I try not to read reviews in any detail... just skim them to know if this seems like a book or movie or play that I might like.

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    1. Yes, I so agree! I used to promote my twisty books, no, I don’t. I love the readers just to get banged in the head with it when they happen!

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    2. Hey, Hallie, great to speak with you! And I agree with you about reviews, especially amateur ones that give away the endings. I had heard about the twist in FIGHT CLUB, for example, before I saw the movie. I hate spoilers! You know, it's not exactly a twist, but two of the most powerful endings ever were THE SEARCHERS, when John Wayne turns from his family celebrating the return of his niece after 8 years and walks off into the horizon. The other would be ROSEMARY'S BABY when we realize Rosemary is going to raise and love her baby. And don't even get me started on SEVEN. "What's in the box?!!!!!!!"

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    3. And I think there were two DIABOLIQUEs weren't there?

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  15. I voted early. We dropped off the absentee ballots at the local City Hall. I remember Murder She Wrote. I thought it was perfect casting since Angela Lansbury played Miss Marple in Mirror Cracked.

    Thinking of movies or tv with twists and I immediately think of the Twilight Zone. What about Twin Peaks?

    Diana

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    1. I loved Twin Peaks (the real one) but I think that might be an example of a twist that doesn't...work. Like Lost. When you think "are you kidding me?" on "huh?" that's not good...

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    2. Or Dallas, when Bobby "woke up", after an entire season of disasters.

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    3. Diana, I've never been a fan of David Lynch so I need to plead ignorance on Twin Peaks. While I have no problem with non-linear storytelling (Love the work of Tarantino!), I don't think Lynch is a particularly good storyteller and seems to be creating entertainment strictly for himself rather than the wider audience.

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    4. Yeah, the Bobby thing. I still use it as an example of the ridiculous!

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    5. Give the DALLAS creative folks credit for calling a Mulligan on an awful season. Dumb for sure, but the alternative was another dumb season. And ROSEANNE brought back John Goodman, then killed off Roseanne herself. But that was more of a suicide, wasn't it?

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    6. I don't watch the show, so I don't know. I think in the case of Goodman's character, they just ignored it. Or maybe referenced his heart attack but not, obviously, that it killed him.

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    7. Maybe there's yet another twist to come: John Goodman's character is a zombie!

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    8. Apologies. I misunderstood what was meant by "twist" in a movie or book. I thought you meant "twist" as quirky.

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    9. Karen in Ohio, that is hilarious!

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  16. Welcome, Jon, and congrats on the new book! When you write the Jessica Fletcher books, do you have an image of Angela Lansbury in your head, or has your idea of Jessica morphed as you've been writing?

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    1. Great question, Ingrid, and I always picture Angela Lansbury when I'm writing Jessica. By the way, did you know she wasn't the first choice to play Jessica? Do you know who was? Jean Stapleton, who played Edith on ALL IN THE FAMILY. How about that? All these years later, talk about owning a role! By the way, here's a little tease: if you want to know the only way I think CBS could bring Murder, She Wrote back, read A TIME FOR MURDER which will be published one year from today!!!!

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  17. Did the Twilight Zone always have a twist? I was too young when I originally watched to remember such things and I've only seen a couple episodes since. Wonderful twists with both. My favorite was always the old man with the glasses - All the Tine In the World. Another favorite was about a hunter and his dog, both of whom were accidentally killed. Don't remember the title of that one.

    The oldest story I remember was The Open Window by Saki. Terrific.

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    1. I THINK so...those are the ones I remember, at least. Maple Street, and the zoo, and the V- ger. Remember those? ANd yes, Saki. LOVED. HH Munro, am I remembering?

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    2. Hank, and let's not forget the great O Henry, often referred to as the king of the twist ending. My favorite: ALIAS JIMMY VALENTINE also known as THE REPRIEVED REFORMATION. I still get chills when I think of the last line which was kind of parrotted in the final scene of THE OUTLAW JOSIE WALES.

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    3. Yes, O Henry! The Gift of the Magi, definitely a twist ending.

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  18. Oh, I was so proud of myself. Even though I was late getting to the blog this morning I thought, "I'll bet nobody even remembers Saki." But there you are, Judi, beating me to the punch. I loved "The Open Window" the first time I read it, and continue to enjoy it every time I've read it since.

    And yes, I voted. I'd vote again if they would let me.

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    1. But you know, I've never read that one..looking for it now..

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    2. Yes, vote early and vote often I say!

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    3. Mention of the classic "The Open Window" reminds me of a terrific and terrifying Alfred Hitchcock episode called "The Unlocked Window." It was made when the series went from 30 to 60 minute episodes, most of which were bloated and sluggish. But "The Unlocked Window" was a classic in many ways. I watched it again recently and, you know what, it's still scary!!!! Great twist ending too!

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    4. Entering classics territory, who remembers THE NECKLACE by de Maupaussant or THE OVERCOAT by Checkov.

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    5. Definitely the Necklace! And I am looking up The Unlocked Window right now!

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  19. The Maine Millennial and I met up at our polling station at morning and voted together. Pics on Twitter if you want to see our cute red-white-and-blue outfits.

    I love a good twist ending - who doesn't? One I haven't seen mentioned yet is REINDEER GAMES, a casino heist film that also asks who is conning who. It stars Ben Afflek (sp?) in a different sort of role than his usual, and he's quite good in it.

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    1. Yes! That was good one! And your photos are wonderful. xooo

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  20. Julia, I don't remember the twist at the end of REINDEER GAMES, but I seem to remember it's one of those movies that opens at the end and then spins backward to show us how we got to that point. That's pretty much the structure of THE USUAL SUSPECTS too. Call it epilogue as prologue and it's a staple of film noir. Oh, and by the way, nobody's mentioned the Kevin Costner movie NO WAY OUT which features a brilliant twist. Believe it was a remake of the classic THE BIG CLOCK starring Ray Milland.

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    1. LOVE LOVE LOVE No Way Out. And The Big Clock is one of my favorite reporter movies of all time..but I don't think it's the same story...but just as good! Oh, Jon watch The Big Clock.

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  21. Always watched Jessica Fletcher on tv, loved Angela Lansbury in the role. So far, I haven't read any of the books associated with the show, but it looks like I need to make an exception, Jon!

    The Crying Game had a good twist--some of my friends saw it coming a mile away, but thanks to a bit of mis-reading of a review, I completely missed the signposts.

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    1. Flora, the great thing about this series, two great things actually, is that they're not sequential--you can read them in any order. And that means you can start with MANUSCRIPT FOR MURDER or A DATE WITH MURDER. Those, of course, are the two titles I've penned, so I guess I'm a bit prejudiced!

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  22. I love twists! Anyone remember Don't Look Now that had Donald Sutherland running all over Venice in pursuit of his dead daughter? Gives me the shivers and I only saw it once. Twilight Zone had so many stories with a shocking end. Bless that Rod Sterling.

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    1. Pat, DON'T LOOK NOW is considered a classic by many. Was it Julie Christie who played the female lead? Brian DePalma had some terrific comparable twist endings in his his films as well like OBSESSION (Cliff Robertson as a man who falls in love with his own daughter), SISTERS, DRESSED TO KILL, and, my personal favorite, BODY DOUBLE.

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  23. Everyone’s comments today are reminding me of TV programs I watched years ago. I’m impressed that so many of you remember the names of individual episodes! I loved Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Alfred Hitchcock, but I couldn’t tell you the episode names. I remember that our family watched these programs together and often talked about them throughout the week!

    Jon, I look forward to catching up with Jessica Fletcher!

    I just got back from voting a little while ago. Lots of people came out to vote, despite the rainy weather. I was in line to check in. I was in line to pick up a ballot and I was in line to wait for a desk/booth. THEN I was in line to drop my ballot into the scanner! And I am actually happy to have had to do this waiting, because it means that people care about this election!

    DebRo

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    1. Thanks, Deborah, and love to hear what you think. I kind of inherited A DATE WITH MURDER when I took over the series, but MANUSCRIPT FOR MURDER is all mine--for better or for worse!

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  24. Hank, all of your Jane and Jake books have twisty stories; that’s part of what makes them fun to read! And then Trust Me! I had to put it down for a couple of days because I needed a break, in a good way, from the suspense! (I even looked at the end before I returned to reading it. Not sure how much chamomile tea I drank while reading that book!)

    DebRo

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    1. Oh, I've been guilty of "end looking" too! Because sometimes it's just too suspenseful. But even if you read the ending of Trust Me, you wouldn't really know what happened...until you read the whole thing.

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    2. My favorite story on this subject comes from an interview I did with George R.R. Martin at my alma mater Brown University in which he said he waited until the end of the book in question to write the Red Wedding scene because he knew if he wrote the scene in sequence, he wouldn't be able to write anything else he'd be so emotionally distraught.

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  25. Karin Slaughter's The Good Daughter has a revealing twist at the end...but with no clues sprinkled throughout the plot, it felt almost cheap.
    Congratulations on your new release!

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    1. Margaret, you raise a great point! Twist endings are only effective, or highly effective, when the build is there and you can go back to re-watch or re-read the story to see how all the clues where there but we missed them. That's what I meant by "organic" above, whereby the twist grows out of the natural flow of the story as opposed to being stuck in for its own sake.

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  26. I love a good twist! Like some others have mentioned though, it has to fit with the story. I'd rather not have a twist if it doesn't make any sense. I once read a thriller with a wonderful twist close to the end ... and then there was another twist after that, one that turned the first twist on its head and seemed extraneous and far-fetched. Sometimes it's just too much.

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    1. Maria, this is an excellent point. Anti-climax equals overkill to the point that once you've gotten the audience's mouth to drop, don't shove something down their throat!!! How's that for a metaphor?

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  27. Hank, you already mentioned the first two twists books that came to mind for me, Clare Mackintosh's I Let You Go and your Trust Me. I do love a good twist. And, Kristopher mentioned We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. That one took me to the end and then tore me wide open. I recently read The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton and The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton. Both of those had great twists. Then, Elly Griffiths' The Stranger Diaries, out in the states next year, has an interesting twist, too. Catriona McPherson's latest stand-alone, Go to My Grave, had a twist I certainly didn't see coming until the end. Peter May's, I'll Keep You Safe pretty much floored me with its big twist. Another Bolton book, Dead Woman Walking had a rather gobsmacking twist, too. Carla Buckley's The Good Goodbye did the twist up nicely. And, one of the books that had a twist that has stayed with me since I read it in 2013 is We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler.

    Jon, I want to add congratulations on your new book and wish you much success with it.

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    1. Thanks, Kathy, and your list above made me think of an underrated book (and truly chilling subsequent film) called THE OTHER by Thomas Tryon. It's about a coastal New England community rocked by a series of murders somehow involving a pair of identical twin boys, one good and the other evil. It's a story that holds up to this day and, in retrospect, feels well ahead of its time. Check it out!

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    2. Oh, THE OTHER. I completely remember that..and that was the book that got me hooked on that kind of book. What was his other one? The Child..something?

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    3. Not sure, but I think THE OTHER was is only true hit. I seem to remember that Tyron was an ex-actor. Talk about going from the frying pan into the fire, right?

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    4. I've just added The Other to my Amazon wish list. Thanks, Jon and Hank!

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    5. Tryon's Harvest Home! Last summer I took a detour through an Indiana corn field and had a flashback to the book.

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    6. Harvest home, harvest home! I knew there was something else! And it would be interesting to see if The Other holds up… I remember it as terrifying!

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    7. I read The Other; I had forgotten all about it. It was creepy! And yes, he had been an actor and had in fact had the lead role in The Cardinal, which was filmed in my parochial school and church when I was in seventh or eighth grade.

      DebRo

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  28. I love a good twist ending, but I also love cliff hangers, which some people really hate. How do you feel about cliff hangers, Jon? Congrats on the release of your new book - I am really looking forward to it, especially since there's a twist. Yay!

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    1. Jenn, I LOVE cliffhangers to the point that you'll notice that every single chapter of MANUSCRIPT FOR MURDER ends with one! To me, nothing is more important than keeping the reader turning the pages and making it impossible to put the book down at the close of a chapter is a key component of that. Sometimes I surprise myself with these cliffhangers because I wasn't expecting an occasional one myself. It's just as important to start every chapter with some form of a hook. Here's an interesting tidbit from someone who'd never written in first person before taking on the MURDER, SHE WROTE series. Cliffhangers help define what makes a thriller and, given that I write my Caitlin Strong books in third person, cliffhangers almost invariably cut to one of the other subplots. But in MANUSCRIPT FOR MURDER, for example, a cliffhanger from Jessica's POV leads to another chapter from Jessica's POV, so the reader doesn't have to wait one or more chapters to see where the cliffhanger leads. Call it the literary version of instant gratification!

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    2. So fascinating! And yes, I think cliffhangers are--useful is certain cases! But NOT at the end of the whole book!

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    3. I wholeheartedly agree, Hank.

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    4. I agree. I know some people who seem to like it, but I find it too manipulative. What I don't mind, however, and actually enjoy wanting to know is what will happen in the next book in a series, so there has to be some sort of lead in for that to happen. Just don't leave me hanging without any resolution on the book just finished. I would be unhappy with the author and likely find myself not buying the next in the series. I have developed a special fondness for reading books written in the same setting and same key characters but not a series with a continuing plot line.

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  29. I love twists, especially when I am not expecting them. That's a great list. I grew up on all those Twilight Zones, Alfred Hitchcock, One Step Beyond, Outer Limits. And The Usual Suspects - I can watch it again and again and still get that thrilling shock when that coffee mug is dropped. Looking forward to his latest Murder, She Wrote. I did enjoy all the previous books but I must say that I am quite pleased you have picked up the series. I have read a couple of articles you wrote explaining your approach to writing the books and it works, they are exciting with suspense and depth.

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  30. Grandma, you are a person after my own heart and congrats for being the first to mention ONE STEP BEYOND. Who was the silver-haired former actor host who introduced the episodes? Was it John Henning? Must say, though, I can't remember a single episode of that one or THRILLER that was introduced by Boris Karloff. I thought HBO did a decent job with TALES FROM THE CRYPT and CBS's original reboot of THE TWILIGHT ZONE, written to some degree by George R.R. Martin, had some stellar episodes including Danny Kaye in his final role playing the keeper of the last minute of time left in the world looking to find a replacement. Also kudos on your mention of THE USUAL SUSPECTS. A perfect film in all respects, especially that ending. Hope you enjoy MANUSCRIPT FOR MURDER!!!!

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    1. I thought of the usual suspects every day as I wrote trust me, I must say :-)

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  31. Voted early by mail! I remember one particularly frightening episode of The Twilight Zone that I watched over and again as often as I could. I tried to get my parents to watch, I think so they would stop complaining. That didn't work, but I resolved to watch quietly, so they didn't complain or make fun. All I recall now was the line that was so scary to me: The train conductor announced, "Next stop Willoughby." Chills up and down my little spine!

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    1. Reine, that's a very subtle and underrated episode. For me, it was NIGHTMARE AT 30,000 FEET. I still remember screaming out loud when the mental patient played by William Shatner pulls back the shade in his airplane seat to see the goblin's face pressed against the glass!

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    2. I just saw Willoughby again! Wow. Creeee—py. Do you remember Ticket to Verna? Is that what it was called?

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    4. I think it's titled "Mirror Image" and where it starts, I think, is with a woman waiting for a train, and the people around her are looking at her like she's "not all there."

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  32. One of the best new books with a completely unexpected twist (to me) is Kate Morton's "The Secret Keeper." And then there's that Roald Dahl classic story, "Lamb to the Slaughter." I do love a good twist. The one that caught me the most was "Sixth Sense."

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    1. So agree! I had my hand on the secret keeper in a bookstore… But didn’t buy it. Can I make a mistake :-)? Xx

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    2. Lenita, that's a great call on LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER. I think Dahl also wrote THE MAN FROM THE SOUTH, starring Peter Lorre and Steve McQueen, which features another of those incredible twist endings. And check out the award-winning THE GLASS EYE which featured a teleplay by the great Sterling Silliphant who won an Academy Award for IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT!

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    3. It's not too late, Hank. I'd love to know what you think after you read it. And thanks, Jon, for adding to my already impossible lists of books and movies.

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  33. Just want to thank everyone for stopping by JungleReds today and offering such great feedback and input. I had a blast and hope all of you did too!!!!!!!

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