Susan, this story was just great! It's no wonder at all that it won a Dobby for Best Novella -- the question of whether it deserved it or not is forever indisputable. I've been reading this story in various lectures here and there for the past few weeks, because not too long ago I finished an Agatha Christie story and remembered that this was on my to-read list. You pulled out all the stops with this one!
How fitting, really, that Tonks would be the one to solve a mystery. She's got the sort of character that would be good at that -- not to mention her love of mystery novels here put her well up to the task. And Charlie, being a dear, going along and helping her! I love the bit at the end, when she's talking to Moody and briefly sees Kingsley; that's a delightful bit of foreshadowing, and I actually found myself grinning, reading it. She's such a great example of why Hufflepuff isn't a worthless House, like a lot of people seem to think. She's quirky and lovable, but she's also brave, and honest, and you can't be an Auror without having serious smarts. So bravo and encore to you for writing one of the best Tonks characterizations I've yet read!
The culprit totally took me by surprise -- but that in itself isn't so much a surprise. :P I read tons of Nancy Drew while growing up, and have had my fair share of adult murder mysteries as well (Agatha Christie and otherwise), and I always like to think I'd be so good at solving mysteries. But then it comes down to the time when I'm reading one, and I'm just stumped. Revelations always hoodwink me, unfortunately enough. :P You wrote this so well, though, planting clues and red herrings and the like! My next big project after finishing my Snape/OC trilogy (gulp, let's not think of that) is, tenatively, a Harry/OC murder mystery, and I know I'm going to be coming back to this story several times for help on how to make it all fit.
I'm sorry I didn't review the other chapters, as well; I've gotten into a somewhat bad habit of reading a story and leaving a review only at the end. But let it have no blight on my conveying my appreciation for this story, because I really did enjoy it very much. I'm so glad I got around to reading this! Fantastic job, Susan -- but then, I expect no less from you. Your stories always leave me extremely satisfied (if a bit jealous)! ♥
Author's Response: Ee! Seeing your review for this story - this one, of all stories, too! - was a fantastic surprise. It may have won a Dobby in the ancient HPFF past, but it's a story that even I've forgotten about it (to the extent that my memory of writing it and the dates I posted the chapters no longer align - it's very awkward :P). It's a great treat to receive a review from you, and an even greater one to hear that you enjoyed the story so much! :D
You're reminding me why it was a fun thing to write. Putting together the characters' names and the plot was a blast, and I think I spent a lot of my time giggling to myself. Tonks was the perfect character for this kind of role - now that I think of it, she's rather like the Eleventh Doctor, madly running through the train while brilliantly putting all of the facts together. Her Puff-like traits come out in the pure enjoyment she has while working on this case. She's doing it for the cause of justice and doesn't let anything bring her down - it's a big change from the moody detectives I often read. maybe that's why JKR called him Moody.
And poor Charlie tries to keep up (and does pretty well, under the circumstances), but he's not an Auror-in-the-making.
Looking back, it's a far more complex story than it seems on the surface. At the time I wrote this, there were criticisms of it not being serious enough and not handling the mystery genre in the "right" way. But you've picked out far more details and connections that many readers, reminding me why it actually is a good mystery - it fulfills the requirements and makes fun of them at the same time. That was what made it an exciting story to write, and I appreciate that you've reminded me why this story became successful.
If you do need help with your mystery story, let me know! I'm a sucker for mysteries and detective stories. One book you might want to check out is P. D. James's "Talking About Detective Fiction" - it's a short book, but it's an interesting look at the genre, and it could give you some inspiration. :) It's a fantastic compliment that you'd come back to my story to help you along, though. Wow!
Thank you very much for this review! ^_^