Short Story Sunday 265: Card (Part Three)

Short Story Sunday: Card | Flash Fiction | Short Story | Mystery | Mystery Writing | Mystery Month | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

Lilah sat behind George’s desk. She leaned back in the chair, propping her feet on the surface of his desk, and swiveled back and forth. She pouted her lips together deep in thought at the meeting they just had with Richard Wiley. His wife, Beth, had been acting strangely for a few weeks before she disappeared without a trace only taking her keys and car with her. What was really strange was that she had called George the week before but never gave any information on what was bothering her.

“What are you doing? Get your feet off my desk.” George said exasperated. He broke Lilah out of her thoughts as he entered the office once more.

Lilah put her feet back to the floor and sat forward propping her elbows on the desk now. “Did Richard have anything else to say?”

George sat down in the client’s chair, much to Lilah’s surprise. She had expected him to kick her out of his seat.

“Well,” he said, “we’ve officially been hired for a case.”

Lilah didn’t smile. “That’s good, I guess.”

George scratched the top of his head. “I’m glad we have work to do, but I feel so uneasy about this particular case. Things aren’t adding up.”

“They’re not supposed to add up. Not right now, anyway.” Lilah stated. She shivered. She was beginning to sound like George. Maybe she shouldn’t have been sitting in his chair after all.

“I know, but usually cases are odd. This one seems more so. I don’t know, I just have a bad feeling.” George answered.

Lilah sighed. “I know what you mean. This is certainly a strange one with both of them calling us… I wonder what Beth wanted from us.”

“She most likely wanted help about whatever is spooking her. Though it was enough for her to run away.” George said.

“Or maybe she took matters into her own hands.” Lilah suggested.

George looked up at her and she shrugged in response. She could tell by the raised eyebrows that George hadn’t thought of that possibility, but he certainly was now.

“Did Richard call the police?” Lilah asked. When George walked their new client to the front door, they stood in the hallway talking for some time. Lilah realized they had forgotten to ask him one of the most important questions – did he call the police already?

George nodded. “I asked him. He called 24 hours after he had no contact from his wife and still had no idea about her whereabouts. He knew the police would give him the run around so he waited until the time was right to call. Also, he was just holding out hoping that Beth would come home. He said he thought she might have just needed some space and went to the spa or something.”

“There are spas around here?” Lilah asked. She wanted one.

“Not that I know of, no.”

“Oh,”

“So, the police are on the case. They’re looking for Beth Wiley and her bright blue Honda.” George rattled off the license plate number he had written down on the sticky note beside her name.

Lilah perked up. “Barney must know then, right? Can we give him a call?”

George scrunched up his face and shook his head. “I don’t want to call my brother about this. Not now, anyway. We’ve barely begun the investigation.”

“Maybe Barney is the beginning of our investigation though. He might know more about Richard than we do. Richard might have given the police more information than he gave us.” Lilah explained.

“I doubt that. Richard wouldn’t have hired us if he didn’t include all the information. I don’t believe so, at least. Besides, Barney isn’t going to share any information with us about it now. Maybe not ever.” George countered.

Lilah sighed. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

They sat in silence for a moment. Lilah watched George carefully as he picked at a loose thread in the upholstery of the chair. Lilah remained deep in thought about the case. She certainly wanted to know more about Beth and also this Richard guy. Even though he was their client, she wondered if they were able to truth him. She glanced back at George again. She also wanted to know what was going on in his mind.

Then the phone rang.

Lilah leaned forward to look at the caller ID. She stood up from her chair and motioned for George to sit in his own seat. “Speak of the devil.”

George stood taking her offer. He switched seats with Lilah picking up the phone as he sat down. “Barney?”

“Speaker,” Lilah whispered. There was no way she was going to be left out of this conversation.

George, for once, obeyed. He pushed the speaker button on the phone and set it down on the receiver.

“George, how are you?” Barney asked.

“I’m fine, how are you?” George replied. He gave Lilah a strange look. She felt just as weirded out as he did. What were the odds of Barney calling them when they were just talking about him?

“I’m on a case, so I’m as fine as I can be.” Barney replied. “Listen,” he continued before George could respond, “I need to talk to you. Are you free to come down to the station sometime today?”

Lilah raised both her eyebrows. Barney’s tone was different. He had his cop voice on that was for sure. Usually he was a little different with George though.

“I guess so, if you really need me to. What’s going on?” George asked.

“I’m at Simmond’s Park in the woods. We got a call from a concerned parent. There’s a car parked in the woods with branches and tarp covering it. The parent who called it in thought someone was sitting in the car watching the kids on the playground. There’s no one in the car though. The owner definitely wanted to hide it, but we’re not sure if it’s been abandoned or if they’ll be back.” Barney explained.

Lilah pressed her lips together. She suddenly felt warm and had a very good feeling as to what was about to happen next. Why Barney needed to talk to them about it, she wasn’t sure. It didn’t seem like they had found Beth, so how did Barney know they were connected somehow?

“Let me guess… blue Honda?” George asked before he mentioned the license plate.

“So, you do know the car.” Barney replied his tone hinting confirmation.

“I have knowledge of the car’s existence. I don’t know it though. Why did you call me about this?” George asked.

“George, your business card was in the front cup holder.” Barney stated.

Lilah’s eyes grew and she looked at George who stared back at her in confusion.

“We ran the plates,” Barney continued, “and this vehicle is registered to a Bethany Wiley. Whether she was the one who drove the car here and hid it, is a mystery, but there’s no report of it being stolen. Do you know Bethany?”

“Not personally,”

“What does that mean?”

George pinched the bridge of his nose. “I’ve never met the woman, though I spoke to her over the phone once last week. I have no idea how she got my business card.”

“Do you know that her husband, Richard Wiley, had reported her missing?” Barney asked.

“Lilah and I have just had the pleasure of meeting Richard.” George answered.

“Where is he?”

“He just left my office about ten minutes before you called.”

Barney sighed. “I’ll have to call him soon…”

Lilah piped up. “This is more about the car, isn’t it? What else is going on?”

“Am I on speaker?” Barney asked.

“Of course,” Lilah grinned.

Barney grunted before explaining further. “There was a body of an adult male in the trunk.”

Words: 1,304

Check out the other Short Story Sundays I’ve done!

I hope you enjoyed this story! Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

Blog Signature | RachelPoli.comPatreon | FiverrTwitter | Instagram | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double JumpSign up for Rachel Poli's Newsletter and get a FREE 14-page Writing Tracker! | Writing | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

Advertisements

All About Red Herrings [Mystery Month]

A red herring is a term used in the mystery genre to throw the detective – or the reader – off the trail. It’s a fake clue to lure them into a false sense that they’re hot on the trail when they’re really now. Red herrings are a lot of fun for the reader and the writer alike. However, they’re not as easy to incorporate into the story as you’d think. So, here’s all about red herrings.

All About Red Herrings | Mystery Month | Mystery Writing | Mystery Genre | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

How Can Red Herrings Be Added To The Story?

Red herrings can be added into the story in a number of ways – through characters, places, evidence, or pretty much anything of importance in the story. How? Because no one knows the truth until the investigator deduces it all.

A place can be a red herring if the body is moved or it seems a crime took place in one spot but it turns out it happened somewhere else. Then, right from the start, the detective already has false information. This goes for the clues as well. Sometimes a clue can be interpreted wrong (for the better or worse).

An innocent character may seem suspicious and vice versa. So, in a way, pretty much everyone could be a red herring. Not to mention, if someone is framed – especially on purpose – that right there is a red herring.

Real And Fake Red Herrings

All red herrings are fake, though some are done on purpose. Like a person who is framed or an “accidental” clue left behind, red herrings can be done on purpose or not.

If a criminal is really that good or has an accomplice, they can purposefully leave certain clues behind, manipulate the crime scene, or frame someone else for the crime if their red herrings are that good enough to throw the reader and detective off the trail.

However, sometimes something can be mistaken as a clue when it’s really not. This is at the fault of the detective or whoever suggested it. They go on a wild goose chase following a hunch that never really mattered. In which case, that sort of red herring is more for the reader because the detective himself believes in the red herring on his own.

Why Are Red Herrings Important?

Red herrings are needed in a mystery for two reasons: one because it adds more tension and suspense and two because it’s a lot of fun.

Not only is it fun for the reader to figure out and possibly be duped by it, but its also fun for the writer to write and figure out themselves. The most important thing though is that it adds more tension and suspense to the story.

When it comes to mystery, you want your readers guessing and on the edge of their seat. It’s fun when you’re trying to solve a fictional crime and you keep flip-flopping between two did it and how.

Be Careful Using Red Herrings

Earlier I mentioned that red herrings can be just about anything – a person, place, or thing. However, you want to be sure you add it in accordingly and that it makes sense. The red herring needs to seemingly be part of the crime somehow and it must be believable to all. If someone was strangled and a bloodied ax is found at the scene and your detective seems to believe the ax had something to do with the murder, then your detective isn’t too bright.

Red herrings need to be woven into the story carefully so that they could really be clues despite having nothing to do with the crime itself.

Overall, red herrings are a lot of fun for the writer to figure out and craft into the story. If done well, the readers will enjoy it just as much.

Do you incorporate red herrings into any of your stories? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

Blog Signature | RachelPoli.comAmazon | Patreon | Fiverr | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double JumpSign up for Rachel Poli's Newsletter and get a FREE 14-page Writing Tracker! | Writing | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

24 Mystery Terms To Know For Your Novel [Mystery Month]

When it comes to writing a mystery novel, we’re no real detectives or officers. We’ve never investigated anything in our lives before – at least, not to the extent of a homicide or anything of the kind.

With that said, when it comes to criminal justice, some vocabulary may be a little foreign. Sure, we’ve heard it in our favorite crime TV shows or cozy mystery books. But we may not know what it actually means.

Here are some mystery terms to know for your novel.

24 Mystery Terms To Know For Your Novel | Mystery Month | Creative Writing | Mystery Genre | RachelPoli.com

Accessory – A person who assists in a crime without directly doing the crime

Accomplice – A person who knowingly assists with a crime

Alibi – An excuse used by an accused person to prove he or she wasn’t at the scene of the crime

Breakthrough – A big discovery in an investigation

Capital Murder – A murder that can be punishable by death

Case File – A collection of documents pertaining to a specific investigation

Deduce (Deduction) – Logical reasoning and thinking to infer information

Evidence – Clues to help solve a crime; can be a statement, fact, or object

Felony – A crime punishable by either death or confinement in a state correctional facility

Forensics – Scientific tests to aid in a criminal investigation

Framed – False evidence against an innocent person pinning the crime on them

Fugitive – A person who escapes or evades arrest or imprisonment

Homicide – The killing of a human being by another human being

Interrogate – To ask questions and get information from people about a crime

Motive – The reason a person does what he/she does

Parole – Allowing a prisoner to serve the remainder of their time outside of prison

Perpetrator – Someone guilty of a crime

Red Herring – A false clue to throw investigators off track

Scapegoat – Someone who is blamed or falsely accused

Sleuth – Another name for Detective

Suspect – Someone who might have committed a crime

Victim – A person harmed by a crime

Warrant – A written order directing someone to do something

Witness – A person who saw something related to a crime

Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below! If you enjoyed this post, please share it around.

Blog Signature | RachelPoli.com

Amazon | Patreon | Fiverr | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double Jump

Sign up for Rachel Poli's Newsletter and get a FREE 14-page Writing Tracker! | Writing | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

Short Story Sunday 264: Disappoint (Part Two)

Short Story Sunday: Disappoint | Flash Fiction | Short Story | Creative Writing | Mystery Month | Mystery Writing | Mystery | RachelPoli.com

Lilah was the one who let Richard into the building. They had their polite greetings – Richard was somber and Lilah attempted to be her usual perky self, but she knew something was terribly wrong. She led him down the hallway to George’s office in silence. She had left the door open and George saw them coming. He stood, buttoning his suit jacket as he walked around to the other side of his desk, and stuck out a hand for Richard. He took it, they dipped their heads as Lilah always saw men do, and then they took their seats. George at his desk, Richard in the client’s chair, and Lilah beside George.

“Thank you for seeing me on such short notice.” Richard began.

“Of course. I’m glad we had an opening.” George replied cracking a small smile.

Lilah wanted to mention they’ve had plenty of openings lately, but she knew well enough when to bite her tongue.

“So, uh, do I just start explaining?” Richard asked. “I’m sorry, I’ve never had to do this before.”

“No worries. Starting at the beginning is helpful, but tell us what you like and take your time. There’s no rush.” George said soothingly.

“Well,” Richard cleared his throat and shifted his weight in his chair, “I don’t really know where to begin, actually… my wife, Beth, she started acting strange a couple weeks ago.”

“Can you be a little more specific than a couple of weeks, please?” George interrupted. He opened his notepad and began scribbling down what Richard dictated.

Richard turned his chin to the ceiling. “Three weeks? I had gone away on a business trip and the day I came home she was acting strange. I had thought she was having an affair. I honestly thought there was a man inside my closet or something and she was nervous I’d find him. I didn’t think she’d ever do anything like that though. We’re very open and honest with one another so I felt comfortable asking her about it.”

Lilah’s draw dropped. “You mean to say you just asked your wife up front if she was cheating on you?”

“Yes,” Richard said matter-of-factly. “Everyone should feel comfortable talking to their partner about anything and everything.” He sighed. “Which is why I don’t understand why she would keep secrets and then disappear into thin air.”

“Wait a minute,” George held up a finger, “has this talk about anything and everything thing mutual between the two of you? Or would you say you’re more of the talker and feelings one in the relationship?”

“Mutual,”

“So, how did she react when you asked if she was cheating on you?”

“It was weird,” Richard began, “she laughed. It wasn’t the kind of laugh where she thought of question was ridiculous or the kind of laugh that’s nervous as she tries to cover it up. Her laughing was filled with relief. It was almost as though she thought I was going to accuse her of something else.”

“Do you know what that something else could be?” Lilah questioned.

“No idea,” Richard shook his head.

George drew in a sharp breath. “So, what did you mean when you said she disappeared into thin air?”

“She vanished.” Richard said, his solemn gaze at the ground. “I woke up one morning and she wasn’t in bed. I thought she had to go into work early so I drove by her work to bring her a coffee. On my way there, I got a phone call from her boss. Beth never showed up to work and never even called. They had called her cell phone a couple of times but she didn’t answer. I lied to Beth’s boss. I told her Beth was sick.” Richard paused. He closed his eyes. “I didn’t want to lie but I didn’t want them to think something was wrong. I didn’t think anything was wrong at the time.”

“It’s okay, I would have done the same thing.” Lilah said quietly. George glanced at her and she shrugged. She felt awkward and wanted him to feel better. She didn’t want him thinking this was his fault, but what did she know? Maybe it was his fault and he either didn’t see it or he was lying to them as well.

“When did you wake up and Beth was gone?” George asked.

“Three days ago.”

“She had been acting strange for nearly three weeks, you didn’t do or say anything about it other than asking about a possible affair, and then she just got up without a trace?” George rehashed.

Richard nodded. “I went back home and found all her things including her wallet and phone. Her car and keys were gone, that’s it. She didn’t take anything.

“And I did ask her what was wrong occasionally. She wouldn’t tell me. She asked for space and said she’d tell me when she was ready. So, I stopped asking. I wanted to respect her request.”

“That was nice of you.” Lilah piped up.

“But now your wife is missing so maybe not so much?” George said bluntly. Lilah elbowed him, but he didn’t so much as flinch.

“Richard,” George leaned forward, “did you know that Beth made a call here a week ago?”

Richard’s head snapped up and he stared at George with wide eyes.

“No, I didn’t think so.” George sighed leaning back into his seat.

“What are you talking about?”

“We knew who Beth was when you called. As soon as you mentioned her name, we remembered her phone call from a week ago.” Lilah explained. “She didn’t give us any information though. She wanted our help but was unsure if we could help.”

“It was almost as though she was at war with herself. She wasn’t sure if calling us was the right thing to do. I asked if she’d come in, but she refused. I told her when she was ready, she was more than welcome to stop by. She said she would think about it and that was it.” George clarified. “She originally called asking if we were taking on more clients but never stated whether she was the one who had interest in hiring us. I wondered if she was calling for you, but obviously that’s not the case.”

Richard remained silent. He turned his gaze to the floor again.

“Now that I think about it, and after hearing your side, I’m sure now. The tone in her voice.” George said cryptically.

“Share with the class, George. There’s no need for secrets.” Lilah deadpanned.

“She was afraid. She was worried about something. Whether she was afraid for herself or for someone else, I’m not sure. It seems as though she ran away, so she must be afraid for herself. She’s scared of something. She disappeared with the intention of not being found.” George explained.

Lilah elbowed him again. She noticed he was staring off into space as he spoke and realized he was getting carried away with his thoughts. Meanwhile, Richard looked like he was about to explode in a waterfall of tears at any second. She was blunt, she knew that much, but George sometimes had no emotional tact.

Her nudge nabbed his attention. George looked up at Lilah in wonderment and she nodded her head to their potential client. When George noticed Richard trying to keep his emotions in check, he sighed.

“Richard, do you need a minute?” he asked. “You can tell us what you’re thinking.”

“I’m…” Richard mumbled something, but Lilah didn’t make out what he said. She leaned forward.

“I’m sorry?” George said leaning forward as well.

Richard lifted his head, his face filled with sorrow. “I’m disappointed.”

“Disappointed?” Lilah repeated in a snarky tone. Now George elbowed her and she waved him away. Disappointed was not the exact emotion she thought Richard would be feeling.

“I’m disappointed because,” Richard sniffled, “Beth felt the need to come to you. Why didn’t she come to me?”

Words: 1,327

Check out the other Short Story Sundays I’ve done!

I hope you enjoyed this story! Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

Blog Signature | RachelPoli.comPatreon | FiverrTwitter | Instagram | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double JumpSign up for Rachel Poli's Newsletter and get a FREE 14-page Writing Tracker! | Writing | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

What To Include In Your Mystery Novel’s Outline [Mystery Month]

It’s Mystery Month and we’re starting right at the beginning of creating a mystery novel. I know most people don’t care too much for outlining, but when it comes to writing a mystery, I find an outline really helps. So, here’s what to include in your mystery novel’s outline.

What To Include In Your Mystery Novel's Outline | Mystery Month | Mystery Writing | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

A List of Characters

This probably goes without saying, but it’s always helpful to have a list of characters handy. So many people are involved in a mystery novel. There’s the detective or police officers, witnesses, suspects, any assistants, the victim, and their family and/or friends, the culprit and anyone who knows them, etc. Even if you just write down their names and their title for the novel (witness, for example), at least you have something. I personally like to write down their first and last names, title, age, and any major plot points that affect them or they had an involvement in.

A List of Clues and Evidence

With crime comes evidence, clues, witness statements, you name it. It’s a good idea to have a handy list of what these clues are and what they mean. Also, how and when they’ll be discovered. Not to mention you can always strategically place them throughout the book. Which one should be discovered and discussed in which chapter and the like.

The Details of the Crime

Who, what, where, when, why, and how. That’s really all you need to know and it’s better to figure it all out before you start writing. Or else you’ll be ripping your hair out later.

A Timeline

Going along with the details of the crime, it’s always a good idea to have a general timeline of the events of the book as well. Not just for the crime but also for the investigation. Despite it being fiction, it’s pretty unrealistic for a homicide to be solved in one day or within a few hours. Evidence needs to be processed, bodies need to be autopsied, travel time to the crime scene, and so much more. There are only so many hours in a day, remember.

An Outline is Not Your Book

The first draft is just you telling yourself the story, but an outline makes that first draft easier to tell… and it also relieves a lot of pressure on the editing part. Outlines are optional and even if you create one, it’s just a guideline for your book – know that things will change. Still, it’ll help in the long run. Your ideas will be in order and it’ll be less remembering for you later.

Do you outline your mystery novels? Or for any genre? Let me know your thoughts on this post in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

Blog Signature | RachelPoli.comAmazon | Patreon | Fiverr | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double JumpSign up for Rachel Poli's Newsletter and get a FREE 14-page Writing Tracker! | Writing | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

7 Elements Of A Mystery Novel [Mystery Month]

We all know what goes into a story – plot, characters, settings, etc. However, there’s more to it depending on the genre you write. Since I main in mystery and it’s Mystery Month, we’ll be talking about the 7 elements of a mystery novel.

7 Elements of a Mystery Novel | Creative Writing | Mystery Writing | Mystery Month | Mystery Genre | RachelPoli.com

Cliffhanger Hook

This goes without saying for every book, but you want the beginning of the novel to really hook your reader. You want them to sink their teeth into the words and frantically turn the pages for more. The hook can be anything though introducing the crime right off the bat is a good way to do it. Of course, not everyone does it that way but do what you think works best for your story. A cliffhanger on the first few pages is a fun way to go too.

Suspense All Around

Of course, you want your mystery novel to be suspenseful. It doesn’t matter what sub-genre of mystery you’re writing it, you want to keep your readers on their toes. The characters need to have high stakes – what if they don’t solve the crime? Or, what if they do? Why is this particular crime such a big deal? What sort of evidence is just evidence or damning evidence?

Red Herrings

Red herrings are “leads” that turn your characters (and readers) in the wrong direction. In some ways, red herrings can be pretty predictable. I know a few books and TV shows that the first person they accuse is a red herring because they do it so often. Still, if woven into the book correctly and the evidence line up, red herrings are a lot of fun to write. It added meaningful filler and add some in-depth character development. Plus, it’ll keep your readers guessing.

Strong, Compelling Characters

If you’re going to write a mystery novel, you want to have characters with purpose. Why are they involved in the case? What does it have to do with them and why do they care about it? Your characters need to have meaning or maybe even a personal involvement in the case. The case, in the end, will only make them stronger. During, though, it’ll push their limits.

Evidence The Makes Sense

While evidence can serve as red herrings as well, each piece needs to make sense. You need to connect all the evidence to one person or a group of people as well as to the crime as a whole. Why is each piece of evidence important and what does it mean? If a clue is a red herring then you need to explain why they thought it pertained to the case and what it actually was when they figure out it had nothing to do with the case in the first place. Everything should be tied in together in one way or another.

Reader Involvement

Part of the fun of reading mystery novels is that I get to play detective. There are some novels where it’s easier to take a look at the crime than others. Depending on the POV of the protagonist, your reader can easily follow along and make their own deductions. Sometimes readers know only what the detective knows or sometimes they’ll know more than the detective and rip their hair out when the detective overlooks something crucial. Still, that sort of involvement is fun, engaging, and adds so much more suspense for the reader.

A Satisfying Ending

Like all good books, we want a good ending. Whether it’s happy or sad, we want it to be satisfying. For a mystery, everything should make sense and be wrapped up neatly and clearly. If there’s a book two, it’ll make your reader rush out to get the next one.

What are some other things you like to see in mystery novels? Let me know your thoughts on this post in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

Blog Signature | RachelPoli.comAmazon | Patreon | Fiverr | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double JumpSign up for Rachel Poli's Newsletter and get a FREE 14-page Writing Tracker! | Writing | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

Short Story Sunday 263: Find Me (Part One)

Short Story Sunday: Find Me | Mystery Month | Mystery Writing | Short Story | Flash Fiction | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

Lilah kicked her foot lightly against the bottom of George’s desk making a low thud sound. She slouched all the way back in her chair swinging her leg aimlessly and mindlessly. George peered over his book with every thud, his eyes getting narrower each time.

She let out a huge sigh – she made it bigger and louder than it needed to be. Since George wasn’t paying any attention to her, she needed to emphasize and be a little dramatic in order to get his attention. Her sigh turned into a yawn and she groaned as she did so.

George lowered his book and let out a small sigh of his own. He placed his paper bookmark in his reading spot, closed the book, and gently lay it flat on his desk. He leaned forward with his hands folded on top of the book. “Lilah, did you need my attention for something?”

“I’m bored.”

“Then go read a book or play your video games or clean or something. I’m trying to read here.”

“What are you reading?” Lilah asked.

“Nothing,” George replied sternly. “Lilah, I want peace and quiet.”

She rolled her eyes. “There’s nothing to do though! We’re usually out and about trying to solves cases at this time. I don’t know what to do with myself.”

“You have plenty of things to do.” George said leaning back in his seat. He picked up his book again but didn’t open it. Instead, he stared at Lilah.

She knew exactly what he wanted. “Are you kicking me out of your office?”

George nodded. “I said I want peace and quiet.”

“I’m quit,” Lilah defended herself.

“Sighing over-dramatically and kicking my desk is far from quiet.”

“I’m peace,” Lilah shrugged turning her gaze away.

George deadpanned. “Get out.” He waved his hands shooing her.

Lilah stood up from her chair. She turned her back and headed for the door. When she stood in the middle of the room, she turned back around to face him. “Are you should you don’t want to do anything?”

“I’m sure,”

“Do you want to go out to eat or something?”

“No, thank you,”

“Wanna play a game?”

“Lilah…”

Lilah went boneless and fell to the floor.

“Oh, dear Lord…” George muttered burying his face in his hands.

The room fell silent. Lilah remained on the ground lying on her back, spread-eagle, staring up at the ceiling. She didn’t dare look up at George, though she wondered if he was taking this chance for his peace and quiet since she was silently protesting.

“Lilah, get up.” She heard him say.

“I want a case.” She replied. “I’m bored. We haven’t had a case in a while.”

“I can’t make a case appear out of thin air. Trust me, if I could, I would.” George said with a grunt. “You think I don’t want to have another case? It allows me to pay rent and it makes you less annoying.”

Lilah sat up on the floor. “Didn’t a lady call us about a week ago? What about her?”

George shrugged. “She called, but I don’t know. What about her?” he repeated.

“How come we didn’t take her case?” Lilah asked pushing herself up from the ground. She found her chair on the other side of George’s desk and sat down there.

“I’m not sure. She told me that she might need our services. I asked her to come in and we could discuss the possibility together, but she didn’t want to.” George answered.

“Why not?” Lilah asked.

“Maybe money is tight for her? Maybe she wasn’t sure if she even had a case for us?”

“Then why would she call at all?”

George sighed. “Lilah, I don’t know. I can’t read minds.”

“You should work on that.” She grinned. He glared at her.

“Listen,” George began, “This woman called about a week ago and asked about our services. I told her what we did and she said she might be able to use us. I asked her to come in and we could decide if that’d be the right decision but she hastily refused.”

“Hastily refused? Why do you put it like that?” Lilah asked.

George hesitated to reply. “Because she hastily refused?”

Lilah waved her hand. “Okay, never mind.”

“She seemed troubled, that was for sure. But I can’t help her unless she wants my help.” George explained. “If she hasn’t called back then I’m left to assume she figured out what she needed to on her own or maybe with the help of a friend.”

“For free… without us.” Lilah said dully.

George cracked a smile. “Not everyone needs us to solve their problems.”

“Well, they should.” Lilah pouted.

George pointed to the door and Lilah rolled her eyes. She got the hint. She had lost this battle. She was going to have to find something else to do to entertain herself. She got up and headed for the door. The moment her hand wrapped around the door handle, the phone rang.

She twisted back around and dashed over to George’s desk. “Yay!” she shouted.

“Shush!” George glared at her. He already had the phone in his hand. “George Florence-”

“And Williams,” Lilah quickly added in a whisper.

George glared at her. “Private Detective, how may I help you?”

Lilah stiffened in her seat as George listened to the voice on the other end of the phone. She brought her hand up and began to bite lightly on her nails. She knew it was bad habit, but the last phone call they got – other than that woman – was a telemarketer. She hoped this was an actual case and not a false alarm. Though she wondered if George would have stayed on the phone this long if it was anything else.

“Well, I’m open for another two hours and my afternoon is wide open. You can come in now, if you’d like?” George replied. Then he smiled and a grin grew on Lilah’s face. “That would be great, we’ll see you soon. My pleasure, good bye.” George hung up the phone.

Lilah jumped up from her seat and fist-pumped the air. “We have a case, don’t we?!”

“A potential case, yes, but we haven’t talked to him in person and don’t know all the details. Who knows if he’ll hire us?” George replied.

“It’s a start.” Lilah said sitting back down. “Besides, it at least gives us something to do this afternoon.”

“Yes,”

“Is he on his way over now?”

“Uh-huh,”

Lilah frowned. “You don’t seem enthusiastic about this. What’s wrong? What’d the man say?”

George opened the top right drawer of his desk and rummaged through some papers. “The man, Richard Wiley, called about his wife. She’s missing. She’s been missing for almost a week.”

“And… that bothers you?” Lilah wondered aloud.

“It’s bothers me because,” George pulled out a sticky note and placed it on his desk, the words facing Lilah.

“Beth Wiley?” Lilah read. “Who’s she?”

“Richard’s wife.” George answered.

“How did you…?”

“She’s also the woman who called us last week.”

“Oh,” Lilah said quietly. “Does he know she called us?”

George shook his head. “He didn’t mention it.”

Lilah slouched down in her chair as George leaned back in his own. Both were deep in thought as they awaited the arrival of the missing person’s husband.

Words: 1,224

Check out the other Short Story Sundays I’ve done!

I hope you enjoyed this story! Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

Blog Signature | RachelPoli.comPatreon | FiverrTwitter | Instagram | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double JumpSign up for Rachel Poli's Newsletter and get a FREE 14-page Writing Tracker! | Writing | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

Does Your Mystery Novel Need To Have A Solution? [Mystery Month]

We’ve all read those kinds of books where the ending is left pretty open. Sometimes it’s satisfying, sometimes it’s not. Once in a while it’s okay to leave the ending up to the reader and they can infer on what might happen next. Other times, though, it just doesn’t make any sense.

You know how sometimes you have 20 pages left in a book and you’re either saying to yourself, “How can this all get wrapped up in 20 pages?” or, “It’s over… what else can be said in these 20 pages?”

I’m pretty sure you want your readers asking themselves the former, but are you able to do that with a mystery where a crime has taken place?

Does your Mystery novel need to have a solution? | Mystery Writing | Creative Writing | Mystery Novel | RachelPoli.com

Let the crime go unsolved

In real life, there are plenty of crimes out there that have gone unsolved. It’s the sad truth. In some cases, the bad guy is crafty enough to get away and other times there’s just not enough evidence to convict someone.

This is totally okay to do in your mystery books, but maybe just once in a while. You don’t want your readers picking up your latest book and saying, “Well, I know there’s going to be no clear answer, so what’s the point?”

But here are some points:

1. Allow your readers to solve it themselves

Each and every day someone out there is discovering something new about the Harry Potter series. Give your readers a chance to do that with your mystery. Book clubs will get together and someone will say, “I think this happened because…” and someone else will counter with, “Yeah, but this guy had this motive…” and so on and so forth. You can leave enough evidence to point the blame at a character or two but not give a clear answer. It will certainly give people something to talk about when the book is over.

2. Give them the right answer but don’t convict anyone

There’s nothing more frustrating than knowing the answer and not being able to do anything about it. You don’t want to frustrate your readers, no, but you want them to feel something, right? Frustration for the detective who solved the crime but can’t do anything about it. Sadness for the victim’s family because they’re so close to justice but can’t get it. Annoyance at the bad guy who’s laughing as he crosses over the border.

3. Don’t give an answer at all

I wouldn’t recommend this in case your readers decide to form a mob against you, but you could just not give an answer at all. Don’t even hint at an answer. The crime could be so messed up that the detective goes insane himself. There might be too many red herrings that no one knows up from down and before they know it, the trail runs cold. This would still allow your readers to try to figure things out, but unlike my first point, they won’t have much concrete clues to go on.

So, is it possible to end a mystery without a solution? Absolutely. Should you do it all the time? Probably not.

But hey, writers not only enjoy torturing their characters, we like to tease our readers a bit too.

Do you always give your mysteries a solid ending? Do you agree that you don’t have to reveal the truth? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

Blog Signature | RachelPoli.comPatreon | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double JumpSign up for Rachel Poli's Newsletter and get a FREE 14-page Writing Tracker! | Writing | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

5 Quotes By David Baldacci [Mystery Month]

5 Quotes by David Baldacci | Writing Quotes | Mystery | Inspiration | Inspirational Quotes | RachelPoli.com

1. “Why can’t people just sit and read books and be nice to each other?”

2. “Today might not be so good. But tomorrow, you got another chance to get it right.”

3. “Time doesn’t really heal, it just makes you not give a crap.”

4. “It’s not the beginning or the destination that counts. It’s the ride in between.”

5. “Anyone who’s lived has lost somebody.”

Have you read any books by David Baldacci? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

Blog Signature | RachelPoli.comPatreon | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double JumpSign up for Rachel Poli's Newsletter and get a FREE 14-page Writing Tracker! | Writing | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

Short Story Sunday 214: Number One Suspect [Part 4 – Mystery Month]

Short Story: "Number One Suspect" | Flash Fiction | Creative Writing | Mystery | RachelPoli.com
DID YOU READ PARTS ONE, TWO, AND THREE?

            After talking to Noah, Jayden’s former boss, George and Lilah went straight back to the office to brainstorm more ideas. Things were suddenly looking for Steven. While the motive for killing his wife was still prominent, things were looking shady on Jayden’s end as well.

“Whatever she was up to leading up to her death,” George had said, “had dire consequences that I don’t think she saw coming.”

They even visited Steven is his holding cell and asked for his bank information. Sure enough, it matched the number that Lilah had found written on the notepad on Noah’s desk. When Barney had asked what they were doing there, George simply shrugged his shoulders and told him that there was more to the case than met the eye.

It wasn’t until the following day that George and Lilah went back to the police station to finally piece everything together. They had helped throw an innocent man in jail and now they had to get him back out so justice could be served.

Barney sighed when he noticed his brother and Lilah walking towards his desk through the police station.

“What do you guys want now?” he asked standing up. “Did the check not arrive yet?”

“We’re here to solve Jayden Bell’s murder.” Lilah boasted.

Barney raised an eyebrow and glanced at George with suspicion.

George sighed. “Listen, we believe Steven is innocent.”

“You helped arrest him!”

“I know, I know. And it was a terrible mistake. It’s a gut feeling both Lilah and I had the other day when you were questioning him.” George explained.

“Really?” Barney scoffed folding his arms across his chest. “Because when I interrogated him the other day he had nothing useful to say. If he was really innocent, I feel as though he would have tried harder.”

Lilah glared at Barney. “He had nothing to say because he was scared. And he’s grieving the loss of his wife. Plus, there’s a lot more to the puzzle that Steven doesn’t even know.”

Barney’s face relaxed as he listened to Lilah. “What do you mean? What else have you figured out?”

Lilah opened her mouth, but thought better than to answer. She looked up at George figuring that he would be the best to explain it all.

“I think,” George said, “this conversation would be better if Steven were in on it.”

Barney reluctantly agreed. He sent George and Lilah to Interrogation Room A on the other side of the station while he went to go fetch the suspect.

When they had made it to the room, Steven sat on one end of the metal table while George and Lilah sat on the other. Barney stood behind them with his back leaning up against the one-way mirror and his arms crossed. He didn’t look amused by this turn of events, yet he seemed intrigued by it all the same.

“Steven,” George began, “Thank you for talking to us again.”

“Sure… are you going to be my lawyer?” Steven asked.

Barney snickered behind them.

George sighed. “No, Steven. I told you, I’m a private investigator. I’m not a lawyer.”

Steven looked over at Lilah and she shook her head before he could even ask. His shoulders slouched in disappointment and he somberly looked down at the cold table in front of him.

“I wouldn’t worry too much. I don’t think you’re going to need any representation.” George said in an attempt to reassure him. However, it only seemed to confuse him as he looked up at George with furrowed brows.

“Did you know that your wife was planning to divorce you?” George asked bluntly.

Steven’s eyes grew wide. “What…?” his bottom lip puckered out and quivered. “What do you mean Jayden was going to divorce me…?”

“I’m sorry to have to tell you this, especially under these circumstances, but she was seeing another man.” George explained. “She was going to divorce you to be with him.”

“Wait a minute,” Barney piped up. “I see this more of a drive to kill her.”

Steven gasped in fright and Lilah rolled her eyes. She turned around in her seat and looked up at Barney. “Can’t you tell that he had no idea she was planning on divorcing him?”

Barney shrugged. “He could be a great actor, for all you know. Besides, I’m just trying to play devil’s advocate. We have to know absolutely everything and get everyone’s side on things.”

Lilah relaxed back down in her seat. She knew Barney was right, but she wished they could all be a little more sympathetic to Steven. He did just lose his wife… in more ways than one.

“She was definitely in over her head, though. I’m sure whoever she was having an affair with didn’t care for her back in the way she cared for him. However, I don’t think she knew that.” George stated.

“I’m not sure I’m following…” Steven said shaking his head.

“I spoke with Mr. Noah Lang yesterday.” George said. He turned around to look at Barney. “I would suggest you page someone to bring him down here. He’s the owner of Prevalli’s Restaurant, Jayden’s former boss, and so-called lover. And whoever picks him up; tell them to take a look a notepad on his desk. It should have Steven’s bank account number written on it.”

Barney hesitated, but he eventually left the room to make the call.

Steven leaned forward on the table looking George in the eye. “Jayden’s boss? Why would he have my bank account information?”

“Remember when you originally hired us it was because you thought Jayden was doing something with your money? Your money was mysteriously disappearing from your account? Checks were being written?” George asked.

Steven nodded.

“I don’t know why, but Jayden was giving all that to Noah. I think he seduced her into believing they had a loving relationship and therefore somehow tricked her into giving her your account information so he could steal money from you.”

Steven leaned back in his chair with a disgusted look on his face. “And Jayden was going to leave me for him?”

Lilah narrowed her eyes. That was what he was taking out of this story? He was concerned that Jayden was going to leave him more so than that she was stealing his money and giving it to someone else for them to use?

When Barney came back into the room, George explained one more time what his suspicions were.

“I don’t know what Noah was using the money for, but I do believe he’s the culprit in stealing from their account.” Georg explained.

“Well, it’s not technically stealing if Jayden was giving him permission to take the money out. It was her account as well.” Barney shrugged his shoulders.

Steven’s jaw dropped. “So that money technically isn’t stolen? I can’t get it back?”

Barney nodded his head. “Well, we’ll see what we can do about that. It’s just not going to be easy.”

Steven slouched back down in his chair.

“The charges for the money might not stick, but I’m pretty sure you’ll find that Noah is also the man who killed Jayden.” George continued.

Steven gasped and Barney shook his head. “And what, may I ask, makes you say that?”

“Noah was using Jayden. She had a lot of money and she was attracted to him. So, he played along to get what he wanted, to get what he needed. There are a lot of theories, but my guess is that he killed her.” George explained. “She either figured out what he was doing and confronted him about it, therefore him getting angry and scared. Maybe she told him that she was going to divorce Steven so they could be together and Noah didn’t want that. He panicked. Or, maybe Noah was done using her and attempted to break up with her. Then maybe she threatened to cut him off completely or asked for her money back and… well, he panicked again.”

Barney pinched the bridge of his nose. “Why did this case have to end up this way…? It was so easy before.”

“Hey!” Steven protested. “You’re talking about my life on the line here.”

“Sorry,” Barney shrugged.

It wasn’t too much longer when a few officers came in announcing that they had brought Noah to the station. George, Lilah, and Barney left Steven in Interrogation Room A and went to go talk to Noah in Interrogation Room B.

“You two again? I thought you said you were Private-Eyes, no police work?” Noah scoffed as soon as he saw George and Lilah.

“Don’t worry about them,” Barney said harshly. He sat down at the table across from him. “Jayden Bell was murdered by several stab wounds all over her body. What exactly can you tell us about that? What can you tell us about anything that has to do with Jayden?”

Noah narrowed his eyes at Barney. He looked around at each and every one of the. “Wait,” he held up a finger, “are you suggesting that I had anything to do with Jayden’s death?”

“Yes,” Barney said bluntly.

Noah banged his fists on the table and stood up from his chair. “You have no right to accuse me of such a thing!”

“We have every right to believe you and Jayden were a lot closer than mere boss and employee.” George piped up. He side-stepped towards the door blocking it. Lilah took a step back wondering if George was worried that Noah would try to run. If that was going to be the case, she didn’t want to get squashed.

Noah’s jaw dropped. Lilah had a feeling he wanted to protest, but no excuses were popping into his head at the moment.

“I want a lawyer!” he finally demanded. “You have no right to bring me to the station and interrogate me like this.”

“This is just a routine follow-up.” Barney said calmly. He leaned back in his chair as though there was no chance of Noah leaping over the table and strangling him.

“I think not!”

“Noah, we can get you a lawyer,” George said politely, “but that will just make us believe you have something to hide.”

“We can easily take this thing to court if you don’t cooperate.” Barney said nonchalantly.

“Huh?” Noah said nearly out of breath. He whipped his head back and forth between looking at Barney and George. They were confusing him and Lilah figured that Noah was trying to calculating which was the best option to get himself out of this as soon as possible.

“If you ask for a lawyer, we can give you one. But just know we’re going to assume you have something to hide. Why would you need a lawyer present otherwise?” Barney asked.

“If you’re completely innocent in everything, like you claim you are, then you shouldn’t need a lawyer. As long as you tell the truth then you won’t be in any trouble.” George added.

Noah’s chest heaved in and out quickly as his breathing grew heavier. He finally sat down with his fists balled on the surface of the table. “Fine,” he said through gritted teeth.

“Perfect,” Barney smiled. “Now, were you and Jayden having an affair?”

Noah remained silent.

“You told us she was planning on divorcing Steven because she was seeing another guy. You also told us that you had no idea who this guy was.” George added, “But then we noticed that you had Jayden’s bank account number written on a notepad.”

“You went through my office?” Noah demanded standing back up. “I didn’t see any search warrant!”

Barney too stood up. He towered over Noah and his angry face burned into Noah’s. “Sit down, Lang! This isn’t your territory.”

Lilah pressed her lips together. Barney and Noah seemed to be locked in a staring contest and she wondered if they were going to brawl. After a moment or two, Noah sat back down. She let out a sigh of relief. And he had seemed like such a nice guy when they had met him the day before.

Barney remained standing still glaring at Noah as George continued speaking.

“There was a notepad sitting out on the surface of your desk. The bank account number was written on the first page and we could easily read what the numbers were. Since Steven Bell had hired us to figure out where all his money was going, we naturally recognized the number.”

Lilah knew that wasn’t the case. Sure, the number seemed familiar, but they still had to check on it. Then again, Noah didn’t need to know that.

“Jayden gave you her bank account information, didn’t she? And then you were using the money for yourself.” George stated.

“For the restaurant,” Noah replied harshly.

Lilah looked over at George. She couldn’t tell whether or not he believed Noah. She wasn’t sure if she believed Noah.

“Jayden was a hard worker. She loved the restaurant and she loved me. So, she wanted to help out and invest in the business. I didn’t ask her for the account information, she gave it to me.” Noah turned from Barney to look at George and sneered. “Is that a crime?”

“We’re trying to figure that one out. It was nice of Jayden to give you her information, but she didn’t talk about it with her husband. So, yes, you were stealing from the lead account holder.” Barney explained.

Noah rolled his eyes. “Fine, I’ll give the money back. Can I go now?”

“What we want to know now is,” George piped up again, “did you care for Jayden liked she cared for you?”

Noah narrowed his eyes and Lilah could see his blood boiling again. “What are you talking about now?”

“You just told us that Jayden loved the restaurant and she loved you.” George stated.

Lilah saw Noah’s eye twitch as George continued speaking.

“Did you love her back?”

“Yes,” Noah said with his teeth gritted. “That’s not a crime, though. I’m sorry she was already married, but when you love someone, you love someone, alright?”

Barney shrugged. “Hey, she was going to divorce Steven to make herself and you happy. Not to mention the restaurant was going to be in great shape financially. It’s a win-win for everyone… Well, except for Steven.”

“Yeah, he somehow got the short end of the stick on that one…” Lilah muttered.

“Listen,” Noah continued, “It doesn’t matter anyway. She’s dead.”

“Because you killed her?” Barney asked.

Noah was about to answer, but stopped himself. He glared at Barney, who kept a neutral expression. Lilah could have sworn that Noah was just about to agree.

“Right before Jayden had died, I was at her house. She and I were having a talk about the restaurant and that was when she told me that she was going to divorce Steven so we could be together. I couldn’t have been happier. When I left, Steven was just getting home. So I snuck out the back door. The next thing I knew I heard Jayden was murdered. I assumed she told Steven she wanted a divorce and he killed her because of it.” Noah explained.

“You went out the back door, huh?” Barney asked. “What size shoe are you?”

“I don’t know… 10?” Noah shrugged.

Barney smirked. “Mr. Noah Lang, you’re under arrest as a suspect in the murder of Jayden Bell.”

“On what grounds?” Noah demanded standing back up.

“On the grounds that there was a bloodied footprint leaving the scene of the crime through the back door,” Barney said calmly.

“But the butcher’s knife had Steven’s fingerprints all over it! You guys found him holding it over her body!” Noah protested.

“You’re right,” Barney nodded, “except it’s not public knowledge that the murder weapon was a butcher’s knife.”

“Whatever, it was a knife…” Noah muttered.

“Nice try,” Barney sighed.

Just then a couple of police officers came into the room and hauled Noah away. George, Lilah, and Barney were left in the room together. Neither one of them said anything to each other for a few moments. But then George piped up.

“You never told me about the footprint.”

Barney snickered. “I also didn’t tell you that I thought Steven was innocent this entire time as well. But when you have a job to do and you have no other leads… Well, you know how it is. You can’t let a good lead go. Just in case,”

“But everyone is innocent until proven guilty.” Lilah stated.

Barney chuckled. “Yeah, you’re right. Still, sometimes your job doesn’t always allow that. You have to think both ways. What if he is innocent, but what if he is guilty?”

“I’m sure Steven is going to be more than happy to hear the news.” Lilah smiled.

“Well, this is just the beginning for him.” George sighed. “The poor guy has a funeral to plan as well as fighting with the bank and insurance companies to try to get his money back.”

“How much money was taken out of his account, anyway?” Lilah asked.

“A couple hundred grand,” Barney replied.

“What?!”

“Yeah, I know. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that kind of money?” Barney sighed.

“What does Steven even do for work?” Lilah asked appalled.

“He’s a private detective, that’s for sure…” George muttered.

“And he by no means is a police officer.” Barney chuckled. “Anyway,” he opened the door leading George and Lilah out of the interrogation room. “I guess I’ll head next door and tell Mr. Steven Bell that he’s free to go.”

George nodded his head. “And good luck to him.”

Words: 2,940

I hope you enjoyed the story! Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

Blog Signature | RachelPoli.comPatreon | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double JumpSign up for Rachel Poli's Newsletter and get a FREE 14-page Writing Tracker! | Writing | Blogging | RachelPoli.com