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.

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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.

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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.

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Short Story Sunday 213: Number One Suspect [Part 3 – Mystery Month]

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

            George held open the door for Lilah as soon as they made it Prevalli’s Restaurant. Lilah walked in first and then stepped to the side to let George walk in front of her. She figured now would be a good time to let him handle all the talking.

“Hello, how are you?” the hostess greeted them right away.

“I’m doing well, how are you?” George replied with a polite smile.

“Great,” she said a little too enthusiastically in Lilah’s opinion. She picked up two menus and looked back up at George. “Table for two? Would you like a booth?”

“No, thank you. We’re not here to eat.” George declined. “Is your manager around?”

The hostess paused for a moment before she finally nodded her head. Her voice shaking she said, “Oh, sure. Let me… Just let me go get him.”

“Please don’t worry,” George squinted at her name tag, “Maria. We’re only here to ask some follow up questions about Jayden Bell.”

Maria let out a small sigh of relief. “Oh, right… Sure, I’ll page him right away.”

“Thank you,” George dipped his head in thanks and then stepped back to give him some space. Lilah followed closely behind.

“So,” she whispered to him, “What exactly is your plan?”

“I want to know what he thinks about Jayden’s death. I want to know whether or not he believes Steven is the killer.” George said simply.

Lilah shook her head. “Why do we care about what he thinks, though? Anyone who would be involved with this case, the money going missing as well as the murder, would be Jayden herself, Steven, and the bank.”

“Lilah, did you ever have a job before you came to me?” George asked.

“I worked at the bookstore part time at my college. Does that count?” she replied.

George nodded. “Now, tell me, did you ever talk behind another employee’s back when they weren’t on duty? Or did you talk about your boss to your co-workers? Maybe you complained about a couple of customers?”

“Of course,” Lilah shrugged. “Doesn’t everyone?”

“And through that gossip, you get close to your co-workers, right? You get to know each other a little better, especially about what’s going on in your life.”

Lilah groaned. “Can you just tell me straight up what you’re trying to say instead of going around the bush?”

“It’s beating around the bush,”

“Whatever,”

“Anyway,” George cleared his throat, “If something stressful is going on in your personal, most people go to work and talk about it. Their co-workers don’t know anything about them outside of work. They’re not friends or relatives with the people you know outside of work. Before I became a police officer I used to talk about the happenings in my family all the time; the good and the bad. Then when I became an officer, I only talked about other things. Everyone knew Barney and my other siblings because we’re all in the same field. I can’t gossip about them at work because it would get back to them. Do you see what I’m trying to say?”

Lilah nodded with a bored sigh. “Yes. It was very long-winded, but yes. I get it. So you think Jayden’s co-workers might know more of what happened because she might have talked about it at work?”

“Exactly,” George nodded.

“Well, that’s stupid.”

George raised an eyebrow looking down at her. “Now what?”

“If Jayden was stealing money from her own bank account, from her own husband, why would she boast about it at work?” Lilah asked.

George chuckled. “Because she didn’t think she would ever get caught… Also, she didn’t think she’d get killed for it. You have to always be careful who you say things to, Lilah. Remember that.”

“You’re being cryptic again…” Lilah said through gritted teeth.

George ignored her and smiled at someone else. Lilah turned her head to see a tall man in a fancy suit walking towards them. His shoulders were so broad she thought they were going to rip right through his suit jacket.

“I’m Noah Lang, the manager here. How can I help you?” the man said as he approached. He stuck out his hand towards George and he shook it.

“George Florence, private investigator.” He said and then pointed to Lilah. “This is my assistant, Lilah Williams.”

“Pleased to meet you,” Noah smiled at Lilah as he shook her hand. She smiled politely back, but Noah had turned his attention back to George before she could say anything to him.

“Private investigator, huh?” he said stroking his chin. “Is everything okay?”

“We just came here to ask a few questions pertaining to Jayden Bell’s death. Is it okay if we speak in a more private place?” George asked.

“Of course,” Noah agreed willingly.

He led them down through the entire restaurant. Lilah was impressed at how crowded it was, even though it was only lunchtime. The lights were dim, the tables and chairs were in great shape, and even the carpet underneath her feet was fancy. It looked so plush she had to do everything in her power to not bend down to stroke it with her hands. Or, better yet, take off her shoes and pretend she was at the beach.

She had never been in this restaurant before. Mostly because it was a little too fancy for her taste and it was also really expensive. Still, as they walked by the kitchen, Lilah got a whiff of a steak and her mouth began to water.

“Here we are. This is my office. Please feel free to make yourself at home.” Noah opened the door and allowed George and Lilah to enter first.

Lilah followed George in and the two of them took a seat on the other side of Noah’s desk.

“So,” Noah began as he sat down, “If you don’t mind my asking, why is there a private investigator involved with this case? The police had already come to question me about Jayden’s death and I’ve heard that they already caught the killer.”

“Well, that’s why we’re here. Steven Bell, the suspect and Jayden’s husband, hired us to help him out.” George stated.

Lilah cautiously turned her head to look at George. She didn’t want to be too obvious that she had no idea what he was talking about. As far as she knew, Steven never hired them.

Then again, this must have been one of those “rules” George was talking about earlier that they were allowed to break.

Noah snorted as he leaned back in his chair and made himself more comfortable. “Well, good luck to you on that one. I’m pretty sure that’s a loss cause.”

“What makes you say that?” George asked.

Lilah turned her attention to Noah surprised. She took out her notebook from her bag and clicked open her pen ready to jot down anything and everything this man said.

Noah shrugged his shoulders. “Jayden was going to divorce Steven and he wasn’t happy about it. I’m pretty sure he killed her because if he couldn’t have her, no one could. It’s happened before.”

Lilah wrote the word “divorce” in capital letters. Divorce had never come up in the case before. Whether Barney knew about it or not, Lilah wasn’t sure.

“Was Jayden afraid of him? Is that why she talked about her divorce?” George asked.

Noah glanced up at the ceiling thinking of an answer. “I wouldn’t say she was afraid of him. She seemed more annoyed with him than anything else.”

“Why did she want to divorce him?”

“She…” Noah sighed. “Well, I don’t know if I should be saying anything at all.”

“Please. Every piece of information helps.” Lilah said.

Noah groaned. “Jayden was cheating on Steven with someone else. She was feeling guilty about it and wanted to divorce him.”

“Do you know the man who she was having an affair with?” George asked.

Noah shrugged. “She never mentioned his name.”

“Excuse me,” Maria knocked on the door and poked her head in. “I’m really sorry to interrupt, but we have some unsatisfied customers. They’re not very happy and demand to speak with you.”

“I’m coming,” Noah stood up from his chair and buttoned his jacket. He rolled his eyes at George. “Time to go put a smile… Please excuse me, I’ll be right back.”

“Of course, take your time.” George replied.

Noah left the office and Maria smiled apologetically to them. “I tried to hold them off, I knew he was busy talking to the police. I’m sorry.”

“He’s at work right now. We understand.” George said giving her a reassuming smile.

Maria nodded and ducked out of the office closing the door behind her.

Lilah jumped out of her seat and walked around to the other side of the desk.

“What are you doing?” George demanded.

“I’m snooping.”

“You can’t snoop!”

“Well, it’s not snooping… It’s peeking.”

“What…?”

Lilah groaned. “While Noah was explaining something to you, I noticed this slip of paper here.” She pointed to a small notepad on the side of his desk.

“Don’t touch that,” George warned.

“I’m not,” Lilah said sternly. “But there’s a number on it.” She started copying the number down in her own notebook.

“What kind of number?” George craned his neck to see.

Lilah ran around the other side of the desk and sat back down in her seat closing her notebook. She stuffed it back inside her bag and whispered, “A bank account number.”

As if on cue, Noah opened the door to his office. “I’m sorry to keep you waiting. Someone’s steak was a little dry and they have to involve me instead of just sending it back to the cook. You know, we put steak sauce on the table for a reason. No cook is perfect and neither are the cows.”

At the same time, George and Lilah stood from their chairs.

“Some people are just rude, what can you do?” Lilah chuckled.

“Well, thank you for chatting with us, Noah. If we have any follow up questions, we’ll be sure to get in touch.” George extended his hand for a goodbye shake.

Noah took it and looked at George suspiciously. “Oh? That’s it?”

“That’s it,”

“Okay, well… have a nice rest of your day.”

George returned the gesture and, after letting Lilah walk in front of him, the two exited the restaurant.

Words: 1,733

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

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On The Devil’s Side Of Heaven By Roger Peppercorn [Book Review – Mystery Month]

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On the Devil's Side of Heaven by Roger Peppercorn | Crime Thriller | Mystery | Book Review | RachelPoli.com

I received a free digital review copy from the author’s publicist in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

With the drop of a judge’s gavel, Walt Walker has finally lost everything. The badge and gun he used to carry and the moral certainty of right and wrong, good and evil that used to keep him grounded. Now Walt, sans gun, gets his badges from an Army Navy store. He spends his days in South Florida, working for a boutique insurance firm as their investigator. He spends his nights in dive bars, trying to forget the mess he has made of his life.

Ronald Jacobs always preferred the title Human Resource Manger to Hitman. But now that he’s retired, he can concentrate on living in the shadows as a respectable gentlemen farmer. Far from the reach and pull of his past life.

Their transgressions are behind them but a chance encounter and a failed assassination attempt sets the two of them on a collision course of violence and retribution. Hunted by contract killers, the law, and corporate bag men, they are pursued across the unforgiving adobes and the sweeping vistas of the Mesa Valley in Western Colorado.

Survival means putting their past in front of them and their differences aside, because in this world the only thing that matters is to cast not others on the devil’s side of heaven, lest you be cast in with them.

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.com

I like the cover, it’s simple and a pretty picture of a forest. One look at it and for reason I can tell what the genre of the book is.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.com

This was an instant read for me mostly due to the genre. I enjoy crime and thrillers and this was a little different from what I usually read.

Plot | RachelPoli.com

The plot isn’t a bad one as two old friends – who also happen to be brother-in-laws meet up once more to foil some bad guys’ plans. The plot itself was fairly well executed and certainly fit for a thriller. There was plenty of action involved and it moved pretty quickly.

Characters | RachelPoli.com

I’ll be honest, I couldn’t get into any of the characters. Walt, the protagonist, was a bit of a cliche – he lost his job, got divorced and lost his kids, and he sits in bars all night trying to drink away his problems. It kind of got old pretty fast.

Ronald wasn’t too bad of a character. However, he’s a retired hit-man but I couldn’t picture him ever being a hit-man other than the fact he was good with guns.

Even the group of bad guys. They acted tough, high-and-mighty, and swore a lot, but it seemed like it was all for the sake of them being the “bad guys.” There was no depth to it.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

I had a hard time reading the book due to the writing style. The POV switched between the characters. It was third-person omniscient, which is fine, but Walt’s parts were in first-person. So, sometimes I was reading the story along with Walt and other times I was with Ronald or an assassin with a third-party unknown narrator. I wasn’t sure which one to believe and it just made the story confusing, especially trying to piece the parts together.

Overall | RachelPoli.com

This wasn’t a bad book, but it was hard for me to get into. I would have liked to see more consistent storytelling with more in-depth characters. It was hard for me to keep track of, though with the fast-pace action and high crime, you may want to give this one a try.

On The Devil’s Side Of Heaven by Roger Peppercorn gets…
Book Review Rating System | 2 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com2 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“He was a killer of all killers and he feared no man. But if his wife was mad, he came a-calling just as pronto as any lovesick dog.” –Roger Peppercorn, On the Devil’s Side of Heaven

Buy the book:

Amazon

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post, please share it around!

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Short Story Sunday 212: Number One Suspect [Part 2 – Mystery Month]

Short Story: "Number One Suspect" (Part 2) | Flash Fiction | Mystery | RachelPoli.com

DID YOU READ PART ONE?

“How could we have helped arrest the wrong man?” Lilah said with a grunt. She pushed the front door of their building open before George could even get the key out of the lock. She walked down the hallway with her arms up in the air in disgust heading for George’s office.

“You know,” George said calmly, “we don’t know for sure that we’ve arrested the wrong man.” He pulled the key out, locked the door again, and then closed it listening for the click.

“Right, but we also don’t know for sure that he’s the right guy we arrested.” Lilah commented. She made it to the end of the hall and jiggled the doorknob to George’s office. She sighed turning around to face him. “Why do you always lock your office?”

“In case someone breaks in,” George said already with the key in hand.

Lilah raised an eyebrow watching him come down the hall. “You know, if someone breaks in through the front door, they’ll easily break into your office.”

“You don’t know that.”

“I’m gonna try it.” Lilah replied snarkily.

George chuckled. “I’d like to see that.”

He unlocked the office door and pushed it open. The door creaked as it slowly widened showcasing the dimly lit room. There was only one window in the room and it was right behind George’s desk. It gave him decent light as he worked during the day, but the rest of the room was in darkness unless the overhead light was turned on.

Lilah entered first as George stepped aside allowing her to go right in. She walked straight ahead across the room sitting down on one of the client’s chairs on the other side of his desk. George followed walking around his desk. He turned on his computer and then sat down.

“So, now what?” Lilah asked. She leaned back folding her arms and legs.

“Let’s go over our notes.” George replied without bothering to look up at her. As he waited for the computer to boot up, he maneuvered some papers around the surface of his desk making room for his keyboard and a notepad.

Lilah nodded watching George as he tidied up the surface of his desk. She didn’t have a lot of notes from the case though.

Steven Bell had come to George and Lilah for help. He was having problems with his wife; he had suspected her of stealing money out of their bank account. While he wasn’t sure what she was doing with the money, he didn’t think it could have been anyone else.

Steven had gone to the bank and they wouldn’t give him too much information. No other accounts were touched; it was just his, which lead Steven to believe even more that this wasn’t a random theft.

The longer George and Lilah investigated, the longer they tried to help Steven, nothing was really turning up. They had spoken to the bank with Steven and also to his wife. It wasn’t too much longer after that that Steven’s wife was murdered.

“We walked in on him standing over his dead wife’s body with a bloodied knife in his hands. He himself was covered in blood, his wife’s blood. We didn’t see it happen, but that right there is enough to make anyone believe he’s a murderer.” Lilah said. She gazed at the ground deep in thought as she spoke. “So, why do we both get the feeling that he’s innocent?”

“Because we know Steven,” George replied.

Lilah lifted her head and George was staring at her.

“We’ve gotten to know Steven pretty well over the past few weeks. We even went out to dinner that one time, remember? It started off as business, but they we ended up staying a little longer because we were actually having a good time.”

“Oh, yeah,” Lilah smiled remembering that night. Then she frowned. “His wife wasn’t there that night.”

George shook his head. “Steven said that she was working. That’s why we were able to go over and talk to him about it.”

“Still…” Lilah said tapping her chin. “Wasn’t she a teacher? We went over to their house around six and stayed until ten… Did she have a second job that we didn’t know about?”

George paused and narrowed his eyes. Then he picked up his notepad and started flipping backwards a few pages. “Are you kidding me…? Why didn’t we see this before?”

Lilah bit her lower lip. “Did we overlook something…?”

“I wrote that she worked as a hostess three nights a week at Prevalli’s Restaurant.” George said.

“Oh, that’s right. Didn’t we go there and talk to a few of her co-workers?” Lilah asked.

George put down his notepad shaking his head. “Not after she had died.”

“But Barney went there after she died. We didn’t really have to.” Lilah said.

“We should have.”

“Why?”

“Because now that means Barney knows more than we do.” George stood up from his chair and walked around to the other side of his desk. “We’re on the same side as the police station, but we’re on two different sides of the same coin.”

Lilah crinkled her face in confusion. “Huh…?” Still, she stood up and followed George out of his office. She jogged a little down the hallway to catch up with him as he was already opening the front door.

“Are we going to the restaurant now?” she asked.

“Yes, we should have been there a while. I have a few questions I would like to ask Steven’s wife’s boss.” George replied. He stood on the front porch, waiting for Lilah to pass by him. Once she did, he shut and locked the front door.

Lilah stood in the grass watching George. “What else could we possibly ask them? They already talked to Barney, why do you think they’re going to talk to us about it?”

“I don’t know, but we’ll figure something out.” George replied.

“Can’t we just ask Barney what they said?”

“If he wanted to share what he found out, he would have already told us. If we ask him now, he may share something just to make it seem like he cooperated with us. But he certainly wouldn’t tell us all of it.”

Lilah puffed out her cheeks in frustration. “That’s annoying… Barney is supposed to help us like we help him.”

George stepped onto the curb and walked down the sidewalk towards the main street where the taxis would drive by. “I agree, but unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. The police station is the police station and we’re a private detective agency for a reason. We have less rules to follow.”

Lilah perked up. “We can break the law?”

“No,” George said sternly. “But remember that we don’t have a certain protocol to follow.” He winked at her.

Lilah smiled up at him, though she wasn’t entirely sure what he meant by that.

Words: 1,155

READ PART THREE HERE!

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

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Poirot Investigates (Hercule Poirot 3) By Agatha Christie [Book Review – Mystery Month]

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Book Review: Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie | Mystery | Short Story | Classic | RachelPoli.com

I bought a paperback copy from Barnes & Noble.

Summary:

First there was the mystery of the film star and the diamond… then came the ‘suicide’ that was murder… the mystery of the absurdly cheap flat… a suspicious death in a locked gun-room… a million dollar bond robbery… the curse of a pharaoh’s tomb… a jewel robbery by the sea… the abduction of a Prime Minister… the disappearance of a banker… a phone call from a dying man… and, finally, the mystery of the missing will.

What links these fascinating cases? Only the brilliant deductive powers of Hercule Poirot!

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.com

The book cover is simple enough. I’ll admit, I think they could have done better since this is a collection of short stories. I’m not really sure where this fits in with the book, but I do like the art style.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.com

I bought this book because I’ve been enjoying the Hercule Poirot series. This is the third book in the series and I’ll admit I was surprised when I started reading as I didn’t realize it was short stories at first. I thought it was a novel like the two books before it.

Plot | RachelPoli.com

This book holds 14 short stories, all about Poirot and his partner, Hastings, solving them. Some of the cases were murder, others were robberies or missing persons. Each one was unique from the others.

I’ll admit some of the stories were hard to follow since they were so short. Each story was roughly about 15-20 pages and I felt as though some of them were too short for me to catch up with how fast Poirot figured everything out. I had to re-read some, but I enjoyed them all the same.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

Agatha Christie writes in a different style than books typically are today (since this book was originally published in 1924). I’ll admit, it’s not something I’m used to, so there are a few lines I need to read over to comprehend them. I was never one to follow “old English” easily especially since French is thrown into the book as well.

For the most part, it was easy to follow. While I wasn’t expecting the short stories at first, it was nice to read instead of a full length novel.

Overall | RachelPoli.com

This was a nice addition to the Hercule Poirot series. I wonder if there are other books in the series that hold short stories or if this was the black sheep of the series. Still, I enjoyed it and it was nice to read an Agatha Christie book again after so long.

Poirot Investigates (Hercule Poirot #3) by Agatha Christie gets…
Book Review Rating System | 4 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com 4 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“‘Poirot,’ I said. ‘Am I quite demented?’
‘No, mon ami, but you are, as always, in a mental fog.'” -Agatha Christie, Poirot Investigates

Buy the book:

Amazon

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post, please share it around!

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Here Lies Daniel Tate By Cristin Terrill [Book Review – Mystery Month]

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Book Review: Here Lies Daniel Tate by Cristin Terrill | Young Adult | Mystery | RachelPoli.com

I bought a hardcover copy at Barnes & Noble.

Summary:

A young, street-savvy runaway looking for a place to call home realizes he might have conned his way into the wrong family in this fast-paced and thrilling novel from award-winning author Cristin Terrill.

When ten-year-old Daniel Tate went missing from one of California’s most elite communities, he left no trace. He simply vanished.

Six years later, when he resurfaces on a snowy street in Vancouver, he’s no longer the same boy. His sandy hair is darker, the freckles are gone, and he’s initially too traumatized to speak, but he’s alive. His overjoyed family brings him home to a world of luxury and comfort he can barely remember. In time, they assure him, he’ll recover his memories; all that matters now is they’re together again.

It’s perfect. A miracle. Except for one thing.

He isn’t Daniel Tate.

He’s a petty con artist who accidentally stumbled into the scam of a lifetime, and he soon learns he’s not the only one in the Tate household with something to hide. The family has as many secrets as they have millions in the bank, and one of them might be ready to kill to keep the worst one buried.

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.com

The book cover is what originally caught my eye in the bookstore. The picture of Daniel Tate (or is it?) is like a puzzle which shows what the book is really about.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.com

I’m a sucker for mystery and once I saw the cover, I was sold. I was intrigued by the title as well.

Plot | RachelPoli.com

Our protagonist, Danny – though we don’t know his real name – is a con artist. He ran way from home as a child and has been running, in and out of the system, ever since. After being put into a group home and playing the “traumatized” card, the staff there think he’d be more suited for a mental institution. In order to get out of that, he impersonates a missing child who resembles him just a little – Daniel Tate, missing since he was 10-years-old, six years ago.

This plot was twisted and there was a lot of drama involved, but it was so good and well woven together that I found myself sucked into the story the deeper I got into it. I thought I had figured out the mystery long ago, but more curve balls were thrown and you don’t know the “truth” until the very end.

Characters | RachelPoli.com

I enjoyed each and every character. The protagonist and narrator had a great voice to tell the story. He was such an interesting well-rounded character that I loved reading his story.

The members of Danny’s family were well-round too. Each one had a unique personality along with their own dark secrets to be kept. The family dynamic is similar to a soap opera’s, but it worked. Normally I don’t care too much for that, but the author made it work well.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

The story was written in first-person through “Danny’s” eyes. We see him before he arrives at the Tate’s house and beyond. The book is almost 400 pages long and there are no chapters, just page breaks. The page breaks didn’t always mean time was passing either. Sometimes it was an internal thought from Danny or it was just a new topic. It felt as though there were no chapters because I was going through the motions with Danny.

Overall | RachelPoli.com

This book turned out to be a lot better than I originally thought. I was so invested in the mystery and the characters alike that I wanted it to end so I could know the truth – but also now that it’s over, I want more.

If you’re looking for a good mystery with lots of speculations, twists and turns, and well-rounded characters, give this one a try.

Here Lies Daniel Tate by Cristin Terrill gets…
Book Review Rating System | 5 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com5 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“The room felt faded and stale, like it belonged to a world that didn’t exist anymore.” -Cristin Terrill, Here Lies Daniel Tate

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post, please share it around!

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Mystery is a Mystery

It’s hard to explain why we like something. To quote a video game, “I like what I like.” End of story.

But we all have different tastes and interests in things. Why? Because we all have different personalities. Why? Well, I don’t know. You’ll have to ask the universe that one.

Some people like to watch TV more so than read books. Some people like eating sweets more so than salty snacks. Some people prefer the mystery genre over other genres.

But why? What is it about reading about people getting killed and solving brutal murders and crimes that get us excited?

Mystery is a Mystery - Why do you like mystery novels? Rachel Poli

It’s cooler than it looks.

Most TV shows chalk up the law enforcement to be a lot more fun than what it really is in real life. It’s glamorous, it’s humorous. Sure, the characters get into perilous situations, but they always get out of it. They always win.

Who didn’t want to be a police officer or a detective when they were younger? I know I wanted to be a spy or secret agent when I was a kid. Then I grew up and realized if that ever came true, I’d be cowering behind my partner the entire time.

The world is a scary place. It’s better to follow the main character around in your head and help them solve puzzles while shouting at the TV screen than actually doing so in real life.

The puzzles.

I don’t know about you, but I love sitting on the floor creating a jigsaw puzzle. Or wracking my brain to solve a riddle. I love look-and-find searches whether it’s words or pictures, I enjoy mazes, and I enjoy playing detective games such as the Clue board game or the Ace Attorney or Professor Layton video games series.

Our brains can work in amazing ways and solving puzzles and riddles is just one of those fascinating ways. It’s not easy, you really have to work and think through it. It’s satisfying when you finally so solve a puzzle. You feel accomplished, you feel smart.

I don’t know about you, but if I solve the murder mystery myself before the end of the book, I do a happy dance.

It’s safe.

Whatever you read in a book, whatever you watch on a TV show, you’re safe. It’s not real.

Even if you’re reading a true crime book, you’re still safe in the comfort of your own home. And whatever crime you’re reading about already happened, justice pulled through, it’s over.

I’m sure there are many other reasons why people love mysteries so much. I think, overall, mysteries are great because it’s so interactive with the audience as they try to solve the crime along with the characters.

I could also ask, though, why do you love fantasy so much? Why do you love romance so much? Each answer is going to be different depending on the genre, depending on the person asked.

So…

Why do you love the mystery genre?

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Inspiration Station: Who Dun It?

Who Dun It

Without notes, it’s hard to keep track of information when writing a mystery novel. As the writer, you need to remember all the facts, the clues, the witnesses, suspects, victims, time and dates, evidence, and so much more.

Outlining is not for everyone, but I think it certainly helps. There are some questions that you need to ask yourself (and most likely have an answer to before you start writing) in order to keep good track of your information.

I use the standard “who, what, where, when, why, and how” questions.

Who:
–Who is the victim?
–Who is the culprit?
–Who are the witnesses?
–Who are the suspects?
–Who are the accomplices?
–Who discovered the body?
–Who discovered the item missing?

What:
–What was the murder weapon?
–What was stolen?
–What was the motive?

Where:
–Where did the crime occur?
–Where was the murder weapon?
–Where was the body?

When:
–When did the crime take place?
–When was the body found?
–When were the authorities called?

Why:
–Why did the culprit do what s/he did?
–Why that certain victim?

How:
–How did the crime occur?
–How did the culprit plan it all?
–How long was the victim dead?

Some questions are repetitive (example: what was the motive, why did the culprit do what s/he did). I do think it helps to reword the same questions because you look at it from different angles. You might get more information out of it. Plus, the more you answer the same question, the more you’ll remember.

Some questions you might not even use. Was there a robbery? Then you certainly won’t be asking yourself what the murder weapon was, when and where the body was found, etc.

I’m sure there are plenty more questions you’ll be able to think of to ask yourself when you plan out your mystery. But those are just a few to get yourself started.

It always helps to solve the mystery before you write.