Oops

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.

 

The Roaring Twenties Return with . . . Murder!

In just a few weeks, the twenties will come roaring back. (You knew that, right?) To celebrate, the local Art Guild is going to be doing a murder mystery dinner with a nineteen twenties theme. And guess who has been elected to write this mystery?

I knew you’d guess it was me, so there was no reason for the mysteriousness except that I need to start cultivating the habit of finding mystery in small things. Otherwise, how am I going to come up with an appropriate story?

The challenge of the murder scenario I wrote for the museum was to offer clues that prove someone didn’t do the dastardly deed. (It’s easier to offer clues that they did, such as blood on a cuff.) The challenge here is to . . .

Well, to be honest, I don’t know what the challenge will be since I haven’t yet started developing the story. I do know who will be the victim. 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. (Am I missing an element? Prohibition, of course, but a speakeasy would include the idea of prohibition since without Prohibition, there’d be no need for a speakeasy.)

The main things I need to figure out are: why would anyone kill the doomed one? How does the setting fit in? How will the story unfold? Why would the killer do it in such a public fashion? (Other than the needs of the story, of course.) How will it be done? A gun would be obvious, and would add the startle factor, especially if it came from outside the room, but poison would make for a more mysterious death — the victim could be acting normally, then slip to the ground midst loud gasps of shock.

There’s no need to worry about alibis since the suspects are all in the speakeasy when the murder happens, so that’s a beginning.

There will be four to six suspects. An appropriate 20s theme or thread that holds the story together. A hook for the murder. A surprise ending. But what any of those things are, I have yet to figure out. Luckily, I have a few weeks until the end of the year. And I just have to come up with the story. I don’t have to write a book (though there is a possibility that eventually a book will work its way out of me).

Necessary characters: A flapper, the boyfriend, a gangster (who could be the boyfriend), a waiter, and . . . .?

Besides the characters themselves, I need reasons why all these folks wanted the victim dead.

Feel free to add your two cents if you wish, or even your twenty cents.

Don’t worry, I’ll keep you informed about my progress whether you want me to or not.

***

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.