Oops. I’d completely forgotten I was supposed to be writing a 1920s murder mystery for a dinner in February, and it needs to be done by the middle of January.

When I agreed to do write the mystery, I had plenty of time, but I frittered that time away on . . . well, on living. So now I’m trying to catch up.

I sort of have an idea of who will be the victim, who the killer is. I know where all this takes place: one night at a speakeasy. I know an Italian dinner will be served. I know there will be a representation of at least some of the iconic elements of that 100-year-old decade besides the speakeasy: jazz, gangsters, flappers. Other than that, I haven’t a clue how to go about concocting such a mystery. Obviously, the first part of the dinner is about laying the background for the characters and why someone wanted to do the dastardly deed. Then, even more obviously, there needs to be a dead body. And finally, at the end, there needs to be a way for everyone to figure out who did it.

I’m not sure how to lay the clues. Or what the clues should be. I could write this as a mystery story, and then extrapolate the guessing game from that, but considering how long it takes me to write fiction, it might not be done until next year, especially since they want it to be funny, and funny takes longer.

Still, that’s not a bad idea, writing the mystery as a story. Once I have the whole story, I could possibly work backward. More importantly, it would give me bits of dialogue to hand out to guests, because it’s hard to tell people what they need to be saying if I don’t know.

All done in less than a month? With Christmas coming? Yikes!

Maybe I can start tomorrow. But no, I am helping with a fundraiser at the museum. Maybe Monday? But Monday I am going to the big city (or what passes for a big city in these parts) with a friend who has a doctor appointment. Maybe Tuesday? But Tuesday, I am going to a meeting to help brainstorm ideas for AARPs Livable Communities program.

It’s beginning to look as if the mystery will have to write itself.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.


4 Responses to “Oops”

  1. Rodney Marsden Says:

    Set it at Christmas time. You probably have Christmas on the brain anyway. It was common to recycle bottles to fool customers. For example an empty bottle of Black Douglas might be filled with inferior alcohol approximating the look of scotch them recorked, resealed to give the impression it is the genuine article then sold as the genuine article. Wood alcohol can send you blind, mad or out and out kill you. An empty champagne bottle from France that came via Canada might be filled with something carbonated, alcoholic and potentially the murder weapon. A speak might be messed up by a competitor out to discredit the joint. Easier to substitute good liquor for bad. Better than going in guns blazing. But who is the killer? Who did the substitution to ruin Christmas Eve at the speak, how to dump the body and keep the cops out? Just a few thoughts. White usually goes with Italian food.

  2. Judy Galyon Says:

    If you have a lot of characters, it might be easier. Bartender, mobster, patrons, & bookie. A female patron is married to the mobster, but takes a liking to the bartender. The bookie threatens to tell her husband if she doesn’t pay him a thousand dollars. Who kills the bartender & how? Hope this helps.

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