"There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact."When I ran into this line in my re-reading of the Canon, I immediately made a note to quote it in the next draft of my latest mystery novel.
-- Sherlock Holmes, "The Boscombe Valley Mystery"
Not only every Sherlock Holmes story from A Study in Scarlet to "The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place," but every mystery tale contains obvious "facts" that turn out to be misleading. Isn't it in the very nature of a mystery story that things are not what they seem at first? That's been part of the stock in trade of every mystery writer since Edgar Allen Poe. Agatha Christie and Ellery Queen were especially adept at this.
In fact, I think I could make a case that every good story is built on deception -- not just mysteries. Star Wars, The Great Gatsby, The Phantom of the Opera, Wuthering Heights, Fringe, The Lost World, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Dracula, The Hobbit, Harry Potter, Casablanca, Star Trek, Macbeth . . . these very different works all seem to qualify. And I'm not being selective. I just threw out titles that popped into my head.
Or am I wrong? Maybe I'm not thinking of some counter-examples. Is it possible to have a good story in which the reader or viewer is not initially deceived by "an obvious fact"?