Mystere Suite

by Frederick Highland

Mystere 1: Maybe Not
(publishing December 8th)
Mystere 2: Under the Rose
(publishing December 9th)
Mystere 3: The Fourth Coffin
(publishing December 10th)

On the Concept of the “Mystere”

“One Minute Mysteries” have been around since the 1930s, illustrated stories that call upon the reader to solve a crime.

I sort of flew with this in creating the “Mysteres.” Each piece offers a single tableau of image and word that presents a crime and often suggests a solution. Sometimes no solution is apparent but the reader can speculate on the why where and how of the crime. They can also be perceived as springboards for the imagination—perhaps inspiring a tale of the reader’s own.

The three “Mysteres” here are not related in the narrative sense but thematically. Each piece is its own narrative.

Maybe Not

Author’s Comment:

Body snatching is an ancient crime and was widely practiced even in enlightened 19th century England.  In this case it seems the snatchers have unearthed more than they bargained for. Their recent acquisition of a calcified Egyptian from who knows where seems to have awakened a baleful presence. Curses!

Under the Rose

Author’s Comment:

“But when we with caution a secret disclose,
We cry, “Be it spoken, sir, under the rose.”
Since ’tis known that the rose was an emblem of old,
Whose leaves by their closeness taught secrets to hold.”

The meaning of “sub rosa” is explained by this old rhyme, one that hints at a mysterious murder in which roses play an essential part. We see a victim, whose bloody corpse is draped across the table to the left. A murderer is present too but there are two personages- a woman on the staircase dressed in male evening clothes and carrying a bouquet of lilies and the older gent contemplating a bloodstained rose. Other text hints at a possible motive for homicide. A telegram in French at bottom right, reads, roughly translated: “Why has there been no answer to our offer of six thousand? Rose.” Is this crime about love or money? Or is something else afoot?

The Fourth Coffin

Author’s Comment:

Perhaps the most elusive murders involve poisoning. In this piece, the reader is presented with four inhabited coffins, three of which suggest the method of the crimes. A fascination with botanicals has likely led the skulking figure on the left, curiously dressed in parson’s garb, to practice his skill in dark, dark ways. Fortunately, an officer of the law is on the scene and seems likely to apprehend the felon. The tome the culprit is carrying may be an ancient herbal or even a grimoire. As for the fourth coffin it seems to be missing a deadly botanical. Why?

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3 Responses to “Mystere Suite”

  1. Sherrie Painter Says:

    Exquisite visuals and stories. This Author is quite amazing. Love it!

  2. Gregory Wayland Says:

    These striking visual exercises produce a complex poetic art. I prefer the art to the mystery. There is mystery we might feel invited to unravel.Personally, I resist that invitation and feel more inclined merely to enjoy whatever impressions the the colors and evocative images make on me – to enjoy the visual poetry, as it were. But in the process, I find I begin to see things, call them clues.I begin inadvertently to “solve” the mystery. Not in every case, I might add. But I’d be just as content to meditate on the layers of mystery here. I love that, and love these works.

  3. Wendy Hohing Says:

    Intriguing and challenging. The author has put a lot of work into these. Great entries!

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