I’ve been thinking a lot about short mystery structure lately, trying to figure out what works at the 4k-12k word range. Shorter works than that always seem to rely on twists, and feel more like vignettes or rely on a single gotcha like those “Catch A Murderer!” books. Longer works than 12k get closer to traditional mystery plots, I feel, just shorter and with fewer twists and turns. That middle range eludes me, though, which is a shame because 4k-8k is the most publishable size for short SF. It’s too long for a twist or gotcha, but it’s often not long enough for a more traditional plot, especially when speculative elements need to be introduced, too.
So I’ve got a stack to read through over the summer while I think about this. But I’m also curious what your favorite short mysteries are, and what you like about them. Is there anything you think I should read in order to get a better feel for how these kind of stories work?