By Evelyn David
The story of the murder at Sandringham, the Queen's vacation home, is slowly unfolding. Security is understandably tight. But let's be honest, if a dead body suddenly showed up on my side of the fence, I'd be spending quite a few hours at the local police station fessing up to everything including lying to my mother about who actually broke her favorite vase (just saying, that sister Rachel may not have been the culprit).
The Royal Family has come under scrutiny for murder before. There's always straightforward Henry VIII, who viewed killing a spouse preferable to divorce or annulment. It might have been legal, but 'twas murder nonetheless. Albert Victor, one of Queen Victoria's grandsons, was a leading suspect in several Jack the Ripper theories. So presumably Lizzie knows how to lawyer up. I bet she's watched Law & Order: UK more than once.
As a mystery writer, I'm always loathe to include real people in my stories. I might use a celebrity to describe one of my characters succinctly. If I say that the office manager had Dolly Parton hair or chest – it's a neat shortcut that will instantly provide the reader with a visual image. But it's my job as a writer is to create memorable characters, settings, and events, not merely figuratively Xerox what I find around me or in the news.
Besides, often the truth is so much crazier than what I could envision (Kim Kardashian telling me that she had married for love and only love). I'm pretty sure that if I'd written it, there would be an outcry that I had asked my readers to suspend too much disbelief. Conversely, sometimes the reality is so bland, that readers would be bored if I offered it up as the solution to a mammoth crime. For example, a few years ago, auditors discovered that a consultant had stolen millions from the Board of Education. I was astonished that the secret to the theft was that she wrote checks to herself for thousands of dollars. Since there was no second signature required, she didn't have to be very creative in order to steal. Sorry, but as a mystery writer, I wouldn't be able to pass that off as a whodunnit.
Of course, we often base characters on people we know, but they are deliberately not clones. Crimes in the news are often the catalysts to storylines, but we're writing fiction, not a true-crime book.
So Stiletto Faithful, play along with me. The Homicide at the Queen's Estate….whodunnit and why?
Marian, the Northern Half of Evelyn David
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