How to Solve A “Who Done It”

29 01 2013

I absorb mystery novels like most of my obsessions, in a terrifying fashion. I find that the first novel from a new author is like trying to analyze a serial killers second victim without knowing about the first. You are trying to figure out the character, environment, laws, relationships, and then finally who was killed. I like to take my time with the first book I read from an author. How I feel about this book will determine if I will read another book in the series or even from the same author again. For example I have only read one James Patterson Novel, from the women murder club series 1st to die. That was all it took. I read a predictable, horrendous book and have written James Patterson off for the remainder of my reading career. That is besides the point, with the skills I have acquired from my years of reading, I have compiled some important steps in solving a “Who Done It.”

1. Locate a crime, preferably a murder: Somehow starting can be the most difficult step. You will either need to part of the list below or align yourself with someone on it.

A. Homicide Detective

B. Forensic Anthropologist

C. FBI Agent

D. CIA Operative

E.  Private Investigator

F. Victim of a Violet Crime – personal or family member related

G. Bounty Hunter

H. Medical Examiner

I. Criminologist

J. Mystery Writer

K. Profiler

L. Vigilante

M. Criminal

N. Thief

O. Fake Psychic

P. Wizard

2. Enlist the help from a faithful, possible suspect, side kick: If you were on the list, locate someone close to the crime or to you that can either push you further into the mystery or know when to pull you out. If were able to align yourself with someone on the list, you are the side kick (congrats on finding yourself.) The job of the side kick is simple, help solve/hinder the development of the story. It also helps if they have a side job that sometimes distracts them, excellent marksmanship, invaluable knowledge of the interworkings of the crime or legal system, an interesting quirk, a romantic interest, and trained in the art of sleuth.

3. Get invested: Either by connecting with the victim, victim family member, rebelling against an authority figure, trusting your gut against all doubters, getting dragged in by the killer making it personal, etc.

4. Interview all People of Interest.

5. Narrow Down and Interrogate Your First Suspect: Spouse estranged or otherwise, boyfriend/girlfriend, business partner, ex, best frenemy, arch nemesis, shady pet sitter, contactor, spouse of affair, jealous co-worker, nanny, iguana.

6. Rattle the First Suspect: Force them to reveal a previously unknown fact or suspicion about a Person of Interest you wrote off due the amount of cooperation you received.

7. Grill the Red Herring: The person brought up in the first Interrogation is about 98% a Red Herring, grill them like no one else. Throw an object and make a vaguely veiled threat.

8. Work out the Red Herring: Verify alibi or lack of motive. Revisit first suspect and groan in exasperation.

9. Check how far you are into the novel: Over half way means you have typically met the killer, or they are at least mentioned. Look at everyone involved, including side kick, leave no stone unturned.

10. Accuse Innocent: Be 100% this person is guilty, loose the veiled threats, discover indisputable fact they are innocent. Question you motives, perspective, objectivity, and everything you know about the case.

11. Eenie Meenie Miney Mo: Pick your 4 closest guesses to who committed the crime plus one outrageous person that you would bet your life didn’t do it. Write the names on each one of your fingers. Play Eenie Meenie Miney Mo and confront the lucky winner.

12. Plan is revealed: Like all bad guys and psychopaths when confronted with confidence that you found the right guy, they fold and admit everything including motive, weapon, and says a line involving pesky kids.

13. Buy yourself and Partner a drink: Reflect on the case and discover new information about yourself. Talk about a job well done. Eat a piece of pie.

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