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I'm currently writing a mystery novel in the third person present tense. I chose this to create more suspense as I like the idea that the reader is discovering things at the same time as the protagonist and the outcome is unknown. The story starts with new information coming to light about an unsolved mystery from the past and deals with the protagonist's present quest to try and solve it.

I want to include some occasional flashback scenes to original events in the third person past tense, but I'm concerned these could disrupt the narrative flow.

Does anyone know of any novels that do this which I could look at as examples?

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I recommend Damon Runyon's short stories to you. All of them are written in the present tense, and there are plenty of flashbacks.

Tobias the Terrible

One night I am sitting in Mindy's restaurant on Broadway partaking heartily of some Hungarian goulash which comes very nice in Mindy's, what with the chef being personally somewhat Hungarian himself, when in pops a guy who is a stranger to me and sits down at my table.

I do not pay any attention to the guy at first as I am busy looking over the entries for the next day at Laurel, but I hear him tell the waiter to bring him some goulash, too. By and by I hear the guy making a strange noise and I look at him over my paper and see that he is crying. In fact, large tears are rolling down his face into his goulash and going plop-plop as they fall.

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks11/1100651h.html

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Thanks for your comments – Linda Nov 27 '15 at 10:47

Does anyone know of any novels that do this which I could look at as examples?

There may be a reason that it is so difficult to find examples of the style. It is probably far too difficult for readers to accept 3rd person present as the point of view.

How does 3rd person present help you tell your story any more than the normal and accepted 3rd person past? Let's take a look at an example of 3rd person present.

Walter is walking down Groves street and he hears a car come around the corner. Walter keeps on walking, staring at the lines in the sidewalk. The sound of squealing tires draws his attention and his head jerks up, just at the car bounces up onto the sidewalk. Walter sees the front left tire pop on the curb, but the car is racing directly at him. He jumps to the left and falls to the ground. The car races by and smashes into the building, narrowly missing him. Walter's mind went back to another time he had to dive for cover. He was serving in the first war in Iraq. Tom had been standing next to him showing him a picture of his fiance when the rocket propelled grenade interrupted their conversation. Walter had pushed Tom to the left and then the terrible explosion. When Walter woke up two days later two shattered legs he had asked about Tom. The doctor hadn't replied but just walked away. The sound of the car door opening pulls Walter back to the present.

Is that even different enough from the following to matter?

Walter walked down Groves street and he heard a car come around the corner. Walter kept on walking, staring at the lines in the sidewalk. The sound of squealing tires drew his attention and his head jerked up, just at the car bounced up onto the sidewalk. Walter saw the front left tire pop on the curb, but the car continued racing directly at him. He jumped to the left and fell to the ground. The car raced by and smashed into the building, narrowly missing him. Walter's mind went back to another time he had to dive for cover. He was serving in the first war in Iraq. Tom had been standing next to him showing him a picture of his fiance when the rocket propelled grenade interrupted their conversation. Walter had pushed Tom to the left and then the terrible explosion. When Walter woke up two days later two shattered legs he had asked about Tom. The doctor hadn't replied but just walked away. The sound of the car door opening pulled Walter back to the present.

Rules or Guidance

Some rules need to be broken in order to move to something new. Others rules are simply meant as guidance to commonly accepted practices that work well.

Just something to consider. Good luck.

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You have a valid reason to take on a difficult (but perhaps unnecessary) task. If your story is good ... Present tense fiction tends to sound like running commentary or stream of consciousness, which is fine. It dates me, perhaps, but Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson were award-winners in this realm. They work in more traditional tenses, too, but a page or two of perusal should be enough to tell if it's what you're looking for.

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