Do You Recognize This Scene?
You’ve just seen a McGuffin. On the run with the rain pouring down, Marion Crane stops at the Bates Motel. A McGuffin, also spelled MacGuffin, is a classic plot device popularized by Alfred Hitchcock but used at least as far back as Homer in The Iliad. It is an event, character, or thing that initiates the action and drives the plot. Although it matters to the character, it fades in importance to the audience. Viewers of Psycho forget about the stolen money and focus on Marion’s murder.
In The Deadliest Lie, the McGuffin is the pressure put on Miriam to announce her wedding date to a man she does not love. In fact, she has fallen for someone else. And like in Psycho, the McGuffin happens at the very beginning:
I wondered what lie I’d tell as I approached the great mahogany doors of my father, Isaac ben Asher’s study. By this evening, the beginning of Shabbat, I was to have fixed on the date of my marriage to my dearest friend, the childhood companion I’d been betrothed to since infancy. My father was increasingly impatient for me to marry Noah, the only son of his business partner, Amram ben Eleazar, and thereby secure the future of our families.
Hitchcock called the McGuffin “a nothing,” meaning that it ceases to have importance to the story, only to initiate the action. For Miriam bat Isaac, her father’s demand sets her on a course of action that involves her in the disappearance of a high-stakes alchemical recipe that could lead to the death of those she loves.
Wiki Ezvid selected The Deadliest Lie as one of the most riveting mysteries set in the distant past. Click here for the book trailer.