I’m in the midst of my second read through of the Vienna Waltz galleys. Reading the final chapters yesterday in which the villains are unmasked, I was reminded of a conundrum I face writing historical suspense. What to do with the villains after try are caught. In many of my stories the villains prove to be closely connected to the central characters, which means ending with an arrest and the prospect of a trial leaves a great many dangling ends that I don’t necessary want to be the focus of my next book. In Secrets of a Lady, Edgar and Jack both die in the dénouement, leaving Meg to go to prison (I’d still like to deal with Meg more in a subsequent book). In Beneath a Silent Moon, Evie also dies, killed by Tommy won escapes (definitely to be dealt with a in a future book). I’m not quite sure what the other characters would have done with Evie if she hadn’t died in the dénouement. It’s rather interesting to contemplate.

But the murderer can’t always conveniently die just as he or she is unmasked. In an as yet unpublished book, I have the murderer get away with the crime. In Vienna Waltz, because the events of the book are very much intertwined with real historical events and people, it was particular difficult to find a solution that worked with the historical record. Reading over the galleys, I’m pretty happy with the solution I found. You’ll have to let me ow what you think hone you read the book.

How do you feel about how plot lines are resolved for villains? What are some of your favorite resolutions? What do you think would have happened to Evie and Edgar if they hadn’t died at the end of their respective books? Writers, do you struggle over what to do with your villains?

This week’s Fraser Correspondence addition is David’s reply to Charles’s letter from last week about the moral ambiguities of his work a a diplomatic attaché.