The thrill of the chase and the taut, hair-raising moments when the villain is finally unmasked is what the dedicated fan eagerly awaits in the classic mystery story.
Trying to unravel the twisted plot turns is great fun for the reader, but writing the classic mystery is a real challenge, even for the likes of a Stephen King or a P. D. James, two of the genre's foremost masters of the secrets of the macabre mind.
In an effort to encourage young people to take more interest in the written word, Sue Feder and her partners, Katherine J. Harig and Paige Rose, of the Mystery Loves Company Booksellers in Fells Point are sponsoring the first Mystery Short Story Writing Contest.
The contest is open to all school children who attend schools (public and private) located within the Baltimore city limits.
There is no entry fee and scripts must be submitted by Feb. 29, 1992.
Feder, who has done some student teaching, says they are TC "hoping for some very good things. My experience has been kids are likely to surprise you with their concepts and language usage. There are no guidelines for the stories," she said. "These days it is very difficult to say what a mystery is. It is a mysterious event solved by main characters.
"We don't expect the younger kids to write about murder. More likely it will be they can't find a doll or dog. There may be muddy footprints leading to a hiding place behind a chair."
The three co-owners will judge the competition and interview the finalists to make certain the children, not their parents, wrote the story.
"One of the things all of us wanted to do at the outset was to reach out to the next generation of readers in a way that would also be fun," Feder said. "We have a selection of mystery books here and reference material that the children can use at no cost or obligation."
The book shop, which has been open since Oct. 1, carries 7,500 titles and 15,000 books on all aspects of the mystery and suspense novel. The inventory is from the former Butler Did It book store on Charles Street.