Monday, January 9, 2012

A Royal Murder

By Evelyn David

I don't want to trivialize the reality of someone being murdered, but I can already envision the Saturday Night Live skit. Guest star Helen Mirren (who played the Queen so well in the movie of the same title) is being grilled by Sherlock Holmes and Watson (think Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law). Harsh spotlight on her face, she's being forced to give the details of where she has spent the previous 24 hours ("Well, I fed the dogs, had a cuppa tea, told Camilla that her sweater was ugly…). If Lizzie doesn't have Miss Marple on speed dial, now's the time to check Zabasearch for her number.

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

Brianna Sullivan Mysteries - e-book series
I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Undying Love in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
A Haunting in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Lottawatah Twister - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Missing in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Sullivan Investigations Mystery - e-book series
Murder Off the Books Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Murder Takes the Cake Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Riley Come Home (short story)- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Moonlighting at the Mall (short story) - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Love Lessons - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords


  1. Now there's a challenge, although I find it hard to take seriously as I've just read [over the holiday] The Queen and I, by Sue Townsend, but I'll look forward to seeing other people's plots.

  2. Phillip in the pantry with a shoehorn?

  3. I saw a piece about where the body was found on the Queen's estate, and it's an area open to the public. So it could be anyone, I imagine! I'm sure the po-po are checking this girl's friends, family, and acquaintances. Oh, and probably any trail she left online as well. All good places to start. (Unless the butler did it!) ;-)

  4. Thanks Maddy, Zita, and Susan. I'll be interested to see how and why the body was left at Sandringham. Whether it was deliberately connected to the royals, or just a public park that was convenient.

    I suspect Queen Elizabeth is thinking that 2012 has started off tough - with her husband's heart issues and this. I think it's also the 60th anniversary of her coronation!


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