Red Herrings

Crime, mystery, thriller writers may have opinions on this issue. Recently I read a review of a thriller, where the reviewer offered the observation that, “red herrings abound.”  Then the reviewer continued with the critique and an over-all negative evaluation. I’m not sure if the reviewer was being coy, flippant or gentle. In an exam or multiple choice test, wrong answer choices are referred to as “detractors.”  But, these could be red herrings too. Some of, if not many real crime leads as they are followed up, are “dead ends” too.  See

Aside from the question “Are red herrings bad in a thriller, Law & Order screenplay, or mystery,” is there some notion that there can be “too many” red herrings?  Sherlock Holmes is discussed as having a red herring in his stories – meaning one.  Hence, if red herrings abound, then that must mean there are too many, and violates some mystery form of sorts.  I don’t consider myself an expert on this. As crime, Mystery, thriller readers and writers, what are your thoughts?   

Timothy J. Desmond
THE DOC, ebook conspiracy thriller novel at

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