It’s not a mystery

“How did you end up writing murder mysteries?” Implication being, “Why would a nice woman like you write about murderers?” I’ve been asked this question more than a few times.

It started innocently enough for me. See if any of the telltale signs apply to you.

Image: Pixabay

You might be a mystery writer if:

While driving you work out scenes, saying the dialogue out loud. At a stoplight you notice the driver in the car beside you staring. You begin to nod your head rhythmically as if you are singing along with the radio instead of talking to yourself or your imaginary friends.

While watching mystery movies with friends and loved ones you feel the need to point out significant clues and red herrings.

You explain how you knew who the killer was early on in the movie. They say, “Oh, I bet you read the book.” 

You pretend you read the book even if you didn’t so you don’t seem like a know-it-all.

I’ve read that the average person walks past a murderer 26 times in his or her life. So, like me, you observe people in malls, restaurants and libraries trying to pick those people out of the crowd.

You’re sitting in a meeting at the day job, with the boss droning on and on. You’re trying to listen with one ear just in case, but your mind is elsewhere. You are not unique in this. Everyone at the meeting is thinking about something else. Only they’re thinking about what they’re going to have for lunch or do this weekend. You’re thinking about them, what kind of character you’d make them in your novel and how you’d describe them.

You notice Bob from accounting sitting next to you is staring out the window. Snow has begun to fall. You can almost read his mind. He’s fantasizing about a vacation on a tropical island. You start writing the scene for him in your head, describing him sitting on a white sand beach with turquoise water lapping against the shore, a fruity cocktail crowned with a little umbrella in his hand. Then you leave Bob and begin to walk down the beach. It’s now your vacation and you’re collecting seashells along the shore. You spot something shiny peeking through the dune. You brush sand away and see it’s a ring – adorning the finger of a dead hand, connected to a very dead body buried in the sand. You wave and call out for help.

The police arrive and naturally suspect you, since you discovered the body. But you know this body has no connection to you. You’re on vacation thousands of miles from home. You never could have afforded a vacation like this if you hadn’t won it in a raffle. Especially, since your financial planner absconded with your life savings.

The police identify the body as your financial planner. You become their prime suspect. You understand that the two of you showing up on the same tiny tropical island at the same time is a huge coincidence. Has the killer orchestrated all this – you winning the vacation and being on hand when the body’s discovered – to frame you for murder? Who is this killer? Then you remember Bob from accounting sitting on the beach, trying to look innocent as he sips on his drink with the little umbrella in it.

Suddenly you turn to look Bob in the face, but he’s gone. In fact, everyone at the meeting has gone to lunch and you’re sitting alone at the conference table.

This is kinda, sort of the way it started for me. 

What about you? Do you display the symptoms of being a mystery writer or incurable mystery reader? Do you have a plot point or an ending tickling at your brain for our little beach murder? Please share in the comments.

33 thoughts on “It’s not a mystery

  1. I give your little story there 1 star. Framing Bob as the killer just because he’s an accountant. Accountants aren’t killers. We ware way too nice.

    An Accountant

    Liked by 3 people

  2. For me, I got started with mysteries reading the Hardy Boys and Doc Savage. There was very little murder in these, but plenty of jewel theives, con men and evil geniuses. Then I discovered the Man from U.N.C.L.E. on TV and decided I could write stories about Solo and Illya. So I got me a pen and a marble-backed copybook and started filling it up. I don’t remember much about the stories I wrote, except of course that they were uniformly bad by my present standards. I did, however, finish several of them, some comprising two or three copybooks.
    As a teenager, I read the classic mysteries. Sherlock Holmes, Ellery Queen, Poirot, Nero Wolfe, Philo Vance, Dr. Gideon Fell and Lord Peter. I gave a talk in English class as a senior in high school about the evolution of the American mystery novel.
    In college, my mystery reading stopped, probably because I had so much else to occupy my time. As an adult, I read fiction only sporadically. It wasn’t until I retired six years ago that I finally decided to pursue my dream and write a mystery series. I came up with Natalie McMasters, a college girl with a potty mouth who moonlights for her uncle’s detective agency to help put herself through school. I wanted a challenge, so as a straight guy in his sixties, I decided to write first person stories about a bisexual woman in her twenties. The rest is history.
    I was also given the opportunity to write canonical Sherlock Holmes stories. I had made quite a study of Holmes as a teenager, and if I didn’t remember all the details, I knew the sources. And as a scientist, I’m pretty good at research. I was able to get the first Holmes pastiche I wrote published in an anthology of pastiches and I’ve since written several more. My latest one is a Christmas story that just came out this month.
    So yes, I guess I display the signs of a mystery writer!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh my goodness, Vickie, you SO need to turn that story about Bob and the financial planner on the tropical island into a full-blown book! I was riveted!

    As for me, I’m constantly thinking about creative new ways to kill folks; I’ve just learned to keep quiet about it unless in certain company (such as the bar at Malice Domestic).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Leslie! I’m thinking maybe I should make Mark Baker the murderer — or the victim, lol!
      I’d love hanging out with you at the Malice bar (or any bar) and talking murder.;)

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I try not to ruin movies by piping in with comments–I could barely contain myself during the latest James Bond this past weekend–but I can’t help speculating aloud on random, obscure cold cases I’ve read about in various articles or news reports. Because I don’t just read one article; I have to go down the rabbit hole and read, say, 9 or 10–especially primary sources. I especially want to know what everyone looked like. Hey, ya never know. I usually make up an ending for the case in my head so I can move on…to the next one.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s