Ideas for a mystery in tarot-themed novel?


Hello, I wonder if you ATers would like to chip in with ideas?

I'm an aspiring novelist and I have this idea of writing a mystery thriller where every chapter is themed according to a Major Arcana Card. Starts with the Fool, continues to the Magician and so on all the way to the World.

Now, I need ideas what the mystery could be. I'm thinking there's a tragedy that seemingly looks straightforward, such as a terrorist strike, but when it's investigated, something much more complicated, entangled and mysterious is revealed. Tarot cards will play a role in resolving the matter - I'm thinking of introducing them as a false lead first (say, a journo interviews a tarot reader, gets the reading, thinks its wrong, but at the very last page realises it was correct all along).

Would you be keen to exercise your brain to come up with ideas for the mystery, conspiracy etc.? Any other suggestions and ideas about a tarot-themed novel are welcome!


There are at least a couple of books on Tarot & Creative Writing, but it may be worthwhile taking a look at this thread on Tarot in literature for some insights and inspiration:

Certainly, some authors have made use of the Tarot either as a narrative device or simply as a prop. You're bound to find something that strikes your fancy and provides some measure of inspiration.


What type of mysteries do you enjoy reading yourself, Saskia? It'll be easier to write the type you enjoy reading.

A cozy mystery will have a very different plot from an international thriller/mystery for instance.

I found a few links that listed the different types:

Once you've settled on the type you'd prefer to write, we can all chime in with some ideas. :)


What time period are you setting it in? That affects the type of mystery, too. Poisonings have fallen out of favour now but they were all the rage 150 years ago.


What time period are you setting it in? That affects the type of mystery, too. Poisonings have fallen out of favour now but they were all the rage 150 years ago.

Things do go in cycles, though, so maybe a fresh, new working of the poisoning idea would just sell like hot cakes now. Maybe think of using a poisoning in the plot. :) You may have hit on something without realizing it, Rosie. :)


A mystery plot usually starts with the outcome then the protagonist unravels the mystery. I would think that starting with the Fool and going thru the MA in order is not the best plot line. Begin with the Tower. Then find the Devil but suspect the Hierphant, the Empress and everyone else along the way. The protagonist could be the fool.


I'd maybe just use one or two cards as the theme for the novel, e.g. maybe the killer or whoever the bad guy is could use that particular card as his 'calling card'. Then you can go into all the backstory as to why that person uses a particular one. Like judgement card is left on the body because he thinks he's absolving them of their crimes. If it's one per chapter might be hard to keep up but I guess it doesn't mean it wouldn't hurt to try.

You could ask the cards themselves :) I think there's a mystery plotting spread around here somewhere.


look over the Hockensmith trio


I tried writing many books in the past, but I never got further than the first few chapters. I had an idea for a tarot themed book, but I'm no longer interested in writing it, so feel free to borrow the idea :)

Basically, there's a murderer in a small town. They leave a tarot card which describes or represents their victim next to their dead body. The main goal of a protagonist is to find out who's gonna die next and catch the killer. So for example the Fool can be the dumbest person in town, Magician - an actual magician or something like that. The book would've been written in a way that even non-Tarot readers could understand.



Have you read any of the White Magic Five and Dime novels? Check out the first one if you can. Might be useful to get an idea of what you want, or don't want, to write. It's actually called, White Magic Five and Dime, a Tarot Mystery.