It’s me, having a Lillet cocktail and trying to get to grips with mystery. There is a Mystery Writers of America… though I almost feel there ought to be a Mystery Writers Anonymous. Aren’t we all closet sleuths?Why, I have several mysteries happening to me write now, such as:
- What happened to the first five hours of my day?
- Who killed my laptop battery?
- Under what pile of papers is the research draft I’ve been busy murdering?
- And, of course, most important: Is it possible to write in yet one more genre in my hell-bent, logic-thwarting, bloody-minded commitment to three simultaneous careers?
Honoring the Mystery Writer
We all love a good mystery. Look at the proliferation of new televisions series and reboots of old ones (I might actually commit murder myself for a sneak peek at season 3 of BBC’s Sherlock). But writing mysteries is not easy. There is a kind of math required, some ability to see forward, like the chess player. Or, more accurately, backward. Here is the end; how do we wind our way to the beginning once more? For the next few weeks, I will be hosting mystery writers for Thursday’s interview segment. This week we have David Bain–next week is Alex Grecian. AND I present to you, my dear readers, a challenge. Never written a mystery? No time like the present, is there? Tomorrow I will be putting up the first segment of a mystery I have been fooling about with for a few years. I will give you a teaser below–and, should your foray into the genre take you places, I may host snippets of reader stories in the future. Hats off to mystery writers, I say!
Here Comes Troubelle, teaser
Stanley Troubelle creased his brow and rubbed one forefinger across his chin. At last, he leaned forward over his coffee mug.
“The woman was actually Robert’s twin sister, but she was left out of their mother’s will—so she hired Irish mobsters to knock him off while he was vacationing in Florence. Then, she could impersonate him, stealing his identity and getting all the money.”
It seemed as good an explanation to Stanley as any, but across the coffee table his wife Kathryn was glaring at him.
“Now you aren’t even trying,” she said, crossing her arms. “It already says that Robert died after returning from Florence, and besides, she was too short to impersonate him.”
Stanley leaned back and puckered his lips.
“Read me the details again,” he said, a little deflated.
Kate held up a small poster-board card and read it once more in the precise manner of television anchormen—and English professors.
“Robert Fishman was found dead in an airport men’s room after returning from a trip to Florence. He had been struck once, on the back of the head, and in his hand he clutched a souvenir broach from Dublin. A few days later, police arrested a petite woman as she attempted to board a plane at the same airport. Who killed Robert, how and why?” Stanley ran a hand through his short, curly hair.
“All right,” he said. “He was returning from Florence, so he shouldn’t have an Irish souvenir broach. It must have belonged to the killer, which I guess means the attacker was the woman—even though she was petite.”
“Size isn’t everything,” Kate said, sitting up straighter and fixing him with her brown eyes. “And neither is gender.”
“Is that a clue? Or just basic feminism?” Stanley asked and Kate stuck her tongue out at him. “So the attacker is the petite female, fine. And she’s Irish? Wait—where was the woman headed when they arrested her?”
“Back to Florence,” Kate said, a mischievous twinkle in her eye.
“Aha!” Stanley thumped his knee. “She isn’t his sister, she’s he wife! His other wife…let me think. He’s leading a double life, and must have families in Dublin and in Florence. His Italian wife finds out about his infidelity and kills him, and then plants the broach to implicate the Irish widow!”
Kate leaned forward, cracking a half-smile.
“And? How did the police know it was her?”
Stan grinned back.
“Because a woman from Ireland would not be wearing a tourist-trap souvenir broach!” Stanley laced his hands behind his head and leaned against the sofa cushions. “And let’s face it, as soon as we know an Italian woman is involved, it’s practically a closed case!”
Kate tossed her dark hair and struck a femme-fatale pose.
“Something you would do well to remember, Mr. Troubelle.”
“Give me some credit, here,” Stanley said, reaching into the board-game box. “I’m Italian too; my family would kill me if I married Irish!”
It was true, Stanely was Italian, even though “Troubelle” was a mixed-up sort of name. When it was pronounced correctly, most people thought it was French. But of course, it was rarely pronounced correctly. Stanley’s father, brother and uncles never seemed to mind the mix-up—they were all in the police force and enjoyed being known among the criminal classes as just plain trouble. Stan was an engineer, however, and Mr. Trouble wasn’t the most confidence-building name to be going about with.