there is a novel called picnic at hanging rock. it was written by joan lindsay in 1967 over a four-week period. it is arguably one of the greatest novels ever written in my opinion. its a mystery novel that focuses on the vanishing act of several girls who go to an australian women's college. they disappeared at a supposed landmark that turned out to be fictional called hanging rock while they were having a picnic.
it was the starter novel for things like cloverfield (im thinking off the top of my head here) where it has the generic FILE REPORT at the start and end to make you think its a real story. seeing as this was the first it actually caused quite a stir, with readers attempting to 'solve' the case by searching up the school and hanging rock itself. they were met with no results because the entire thing is fictional.
the book itself has sadly killed its own cult following with its ending. the thing that sets this mystery novel out from others is that there is no conclusion. the girls that disappear are not found bar one who is found in the sea by a fisherman several kilometers away from hanging rock. however he is found to be a concussion and as opposed to saying he solved the mystery of hanging rock, he becomes the fourth victim of the mystery. there are several red herrings throughout the adventure, with certain people being painted out as obvious culprits (sexual molestation is one of the prime theories as to how the girls disappeared). in the end, however, it ends on a low with NOTHING HAPPENING.
it's different to another book, the mystery of the disappearing cat, by enid blighton. in this you find out the mystery aspect is completely overhyped and that the answer was there all along; that there was really nothing cryptic. with picnic at hanging rock, you dont get an elaborate answer that uncovers the mystery, nor do you get a simple debunking (oh they just fell down a hole and couldnt get out). instead, it ends with one of the characters saying something along the lines of 'oh well, i guess we'll never know what happened to them'.
this is all well and good and sorta different, but why is picnic at hanging rock the source of so much debate. is it because of its amelia earhart/marie celeste parallels that cause so much speculation? to an extent, yes, but the truth is that more than a decade after the novel was published, it was revealed that there actually was a conclusion to the story that the publisher, not the author, felt the story would be best without, so he edited it out and made up a fake epilogue. the author, joan, was paid a considerable sum of money and so didnt object.
so there was an underground scurry to find out what happened in the ACTUAL ENDING. were they raped by a madman? did they have their bodies hidden? did they run off to get away from school? did they decide to leave hanging rock and take a dip in the sea, only to be swept out by currents and end up drowning themselves? i was in two minds about finding out the real ending, and i wish i had stuck with the first one when i read it after it was released to the public a year and a half ago.
according to the author, it was a 'time slip'. the girls ended up in the 1500s and lived there for a couple of days; conveniently returning in time for the very end of the novel. no one believes them but they stick to their story until they died.
wanna know how to kill a perfectly good mystery novel? give it a paranormal twist.