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

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


“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.”


“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


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 |

I bought a paperback copy from Barnes & Noble.


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 |

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 |

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 |

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 |

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 |

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 | 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:


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 |

I bought a hardcover copy at Barnes & Noble.


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 |

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 |

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

Plot |

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 |

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 |

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 |

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.


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

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

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

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

–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.