Writing Your First Mystery 

Writing Your  First Mystery CoverA step-by-step guide to constructing your first mystery by bestselling crime fiction author Mar Preston

This short guide introduces topics that will arise before you tackle your first mystery. Some will be familiar; others will have you scratching your head and doing some real thinking. You’ll be grappling with the elements of plot and the underlying structure of the mystery novel, the whodunnit, and the thriller. You’ll have fun–and sometimes it will be hard work.

Everything I know about writing mysteries is packed into ten thousand words in this first eBook of 3. Consider purchasing Book II Plotting Your First Mystery and Writing Killer Characters on Amazon.

A free edition of Writing Your First Mystery is available below. Help yourself!

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If you like it, please consider leaving me a short review on Amazon.


I also write another series set in Sierra Mountain Village featuring Detective Dex Stafford of the Kern County Sheriff’s Department. The setting bears a resemblance to the colorful mountain village in California where I live. But, I assure you, only nice people live here and no one can remember the last murder, except in the pages of Payback. A second title in the series is in the works.

What Reviewers are saying about my work:

No Dice:

Book Snoop: Nice to see something new to me in a murder mystery.

Edie Dykeman, BellaOnline’s Mystery Books Editor: Top-Notch New Series

Samfreene: One smart cop, one feisty activist and one smart nine-year-old that just might
follow in her father’s footsteps.

Patty: I am buying more copies to give as Christmas gifts. Enough said.

Gael Bailey: You get where you want to know what happened to the characters after the
book ended. I read it twice and enjoyed it more the second time.
If you favor characters like in Stone Barrington and Harry Bosch, you’ll love this book!

ToughLadySpeak: Brusque language, original insight and surprisingly semi-hard boiled
prose from a female author who is not afraid to push the envelope.


Jim Conn, former Mayor of Santa Monica: Wonderful character studies and a glimpse into
the underbelly of one of America’s best known liberal cities and one of this country’s most
popular international tourist destinations.

Best ChickLit: Rip Off is a ripping good yarn if I ever read one! The small novel is packed to the brim full of action, death and deceit – plus high-tech burglaries to boot!

Mayra Calvani: Multi-genre author and reviewer: An excellent job in bringing upscale Santa Monica and its people to life, with its luxurious condos and leftist politics.


Jim Lockhart: “Mar Preston’s Payback is an attractive, skillfully done melding of an American police procedural story with an English village mystery.

Jodie Renner: Even though I was reading very intently, the ending still caught me by surprise. The author also gives us some great insights into California mountain politics and current ecological issues of the area. I’d rate this Mar Preston’s best book so far, in many ways. And it’s nice to learn a few things while being entertained. An absorbing read!

On Behalf of the Family

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Police Procedural, February 13, 2014

This review is from: On Behalf of the Family (A Detective Dave Mason Mystery) (Kindle Edition)

Car on fire in a parking garage. Body in passenger seat burned to a crisp. Euuie. Such a lovely place as Santa Monica has crime? And such gruesome crime?This is a wonderful police procedural, with Dave Mason, oh, pardon me, DETECTIVE Dave Mason, of the Santa Monica Police at the scene, along with an overeager female detective, Fredericks and his longtime partner Art Delgado working to solve what looks like something building up to be a hate crime. The victim was a young female, her distinctive totebag thrown free of the burning car containing a scarf. She is ultimately ID’d as a Muslim, the daughter of a very wealthy Turkish family.What a great book this was. Dynamite plot, a likeable detective with a wobbly love life, and some interesting facts.Do you know the story of the Genocide, as the Armenians call it? Around 1921, the Turks started pushing the Armenians out of that region and then stole their land. A forced march, on which many died. Others were slaughtered in their homes. Some say the Kurds did the slaughtering and grabbed the best land. This all happened more than one hundred years ago, and is vehemently denied by the Turks to this day.See why I liked this book so much?

5.0 out of 5 stars Wow. This is a good one, February 9, 2014
Geri Wheelis (Los Angeles, CA United States) – See all my reviews
Wow, this was good. The subject matter was new to me and at first I thought I wouldn’t like it but the characters were so engaging that I found myself reading really fast to see what happened and then slowing down in the middle of the book to make it last. I’m buying more of her books right now.
5.0 out of 5 stars Top class writing and reading, January 26, 2014
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
My Author Alert program is marvelous and right on the ball! Within minutes of receiving notification that the latest Mar Preston book had been published, I got online and bought this terrific crime novel.Intricately woven and beautifully presented, the plot follows the suspicious death of a young girl in a burning car. Dave Mason, desperate to find some “downtime” with his beloved Gina, is forced to continue the hunt for the killer – and the motive for the murder – with little sleep. The boss, the media and politicians – ever seeking a photo opportunity – are on his back for a “half hour TV program” solution. Within his team, there are stresses too, though the investigation plows ahead in spite of all hitches.I loved this novel. Preston has written a true page-turner and her writing gets better with each book. I hope she is already working her fingers to the bone, turning out another Dave Mason thriller.Highly recommended!!!!
A Very Private High School
It is a well written 442 pages of suspense, police procedure, and development of the characters, the beach culture of Santa Monica, the police department, and the world of private schools and non-profits. Preston brings skillful writing and a love of mystery and mayhem, style, and contemporary ideas, to her novels. As long as she writes them, I’ll keep reading them.  Treelover
A Very Private High School has just about everything. Well plotted, well grounded in the realities of police procedure. A Very Private High School has some very funny scenes, excellent description, and a couple of stunning images, for people like me who want some poetry in the souls of their crime writers. Mar Preston writes crime novels with a social conscience and she has the experience with institutions, and with human nature, to make believers out of her readers. This is a good book!

November Give-Away

I’d love to present two free copies of On Behalf of the Family to readers who sign up for my mailing list this month. Please go to the Contact Page to send me your email address. I can’t imagine a situation in which I’d give your email address to anyone else!

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