Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – Murder Mystery Style

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Merton College © Eldridge Photography

I don’t know about you, but my week has been full of action packed days. Frankly, I’m not even 100% certain what day it actually is, though I’m sure it must be just about time for some Friday Writing Sprints.

There’s nothing like a little Random Word Improv wrap up the week and to provide a nice mental distraction.

Care to join me?

Whether you met your writing goals this week, spent your time learning new things, or just took some time to relax and recharge, a few minutes of improv are a great way to have a little fun and get some words on the page. I’ll be giving it my best shot while enjoying a cream tea at the local café; feel free to enjoy your own beverage of choice while writing.

Ready?

For any of you new to Random Word Improv, here’s how we play:

  1. Pick as many words from the list as you want
  2. Write the first line(s) of a story incorporating your words
  3. Post your results in the comments section.

All right, let’s get started. As you might have guessed from the title of this post, we have a theme today, inspired by the attached photo which looked like the perfect setting for a murder mystery house party.

Here are our specially selected random words. Can’t wait to see what you do with them.

                clue                       locked                   guest                     butler

                nephew               dinner                   frighten               murder

                missing               investigate          noise                     attic

                cellar                    madness              uncover               inheritance

Okay.  Are you ready?  Go!

*whistling aimlessly while you are off being creative*

Back already? Can’t wait to read what you’ve come up with.

Happy writing to all.

12 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – Murder Mystery Style

  1. Sir Frederick Butterfield, nephew to Lord Moneywort and “Feckless Freddie” to those who knew him well, was in dire financial straits.

    Again.

    Lacking in both initiative and strength of character, Freddie had always found the thought of employment to be too tedious to consider. Regrettably, his fondness for good food, expensive women, and fast cars had made establishing a constant stream of income a dire necessity.

    His father had called him into the study just yesterday and attempted to frighten him into getting a job by threatening to cut off his quarterly allowance. It was madness, of course. Why go through the bother of working when ancient Uncle Moneywort’s abundant inheritance was ready to fall into his hands like an over-ripe plum.

    Moneywort, who also had a fondness for good food, expensive women, and fast cars, had quite fortunately been blessed with an uncanny ability to invest his money in just the right place at just the right time. He had never married and considered Freddie to be like a son, despite his feckless ways.

    On Sunday, Freddie drove out to Richton Manor for dinner with Uncle Moneywort, as was his habit. He was looking forward to enjoying a fine meal, capped off with some even finer libations from Uncle’s extensive wine cellar.

    The first indication that something was wrong was ambulance in the driveway.

    As Freddie scrambled out of his low-slung sports car, a gurney was wheeled out of the house with a body covered in a black cloth. Noting the butler Henderson in the background, with his tie askew and his face tear-stained, it was not hard to guess who was on the gurney.

    Freddie felt a pang at the thought. Feckless though he was he was genuinely fond of his Uncle. The thought of the inheritance was the last thing on his mind as he watched the ambulance drive away.

    Rushing into the house, he heard a buzz of noise coming from the living room where the rest of the Sunday dinner guests were talking among themselves. He couldn’t make out any distinct conversation, but could tell they were distraught and even a little fearful.

    Freddie walked straight over to Henderson, who was talking to a rather short, round man in a well-worn black suit. The man was listening intently and taking notes in a small leather notebook.

    “And you’re sure the room was locked?” the man asked as Freddie approached.

    Henderson straightened his already erect posture, smoothed his tie, and stared down at the man. “Quite certain. Lord Moneywort always insisted the attic door be locked at all times.”

    “Any clue how it came to be unlocked this afternoon?”

    Freddie interrupted their conversation. “Henderson, what has happened?” He was shocked into speechlessness when he heard the answer.

    “Murder!”

    • LOL, these are a great set of words, and you’ve got a great start to a story, Elizabeth! We should really work these out (my effort is only a beginning as well), and maybe have Murder Mystery Week sometime in October. You think Moneywort is faking his death . . . but who knows what will happen between now and the end of the story? Even if we’ve been “spoiled”, I foresee a fascinating journey!

      I’ve never written a mystery before. I’ve always thought the plotting is a bit beyond my brainpower. Mine will probably more of a Thurberesque romp.

  2. Very fun, except for poor Lord Moneywort. Glad that Freddie genuinely cared for his uncle. I wonder what was in the attic?

    • Yes, Freddie turned out to have a good heart. As for the attic, I’ve been studying too much gothic literature, I think, since my first thought was that he had a mad wife locked up there who had escaped and done him in. That seems too dark a story, so instead I will go with my second idea: Lord Moneywort is not really dead. He only faked his death to uncover a dishonest business partner or maybe a scheming relative. In that case, the locked attic was merely a ruse / red-herring.

  3. Aunt Hyacinth left everything to her butler, Inscrutable.

    And when I say everything, I mean Everything. The Mayfair mansion and the Highland estate. The matched Purdeys. The Bentley. A pair of Picassos and a vault of Vermeers. Museum-quality Attic manuscripts, a Benvenuto Cellini salt cellar, a hand-painted dinner set made for the Duke of Wellington by some grateful European monarch.

    The newspapers had a field day but when the Probate Office asked I didn’t raise a single objection. It was my brother Alfred, Hyacinth’s favorite nephew, who screamed blue murder. He’d been borrowing against his inheritance since he came down from Eton, and a polite visit from a pair of Lucky Jim’s heavies to discuss his plans for repayment left him frightened out of his wits.

    Alfred made a lot of noise. He issued threats. He consulted lawyers. He called the police. I could have told him he was wasting his time.

    I’d been a guest at Glenkiltie back in the day, when Uncle Philander went missing less than twenty-four hours after Aunt Hyacinth caught him in the scullery with Mrs. Inscrutable. Scotland Yard sent their best detective to investigate. The man stayed for a month but failed to uncover a single clue. You could tell he was a city dweller.

    It was a fine summer. The kitchen garden was groaning with produce and normally I’d have helped Mrs Inscrutable bottle up her legendary jams, jellies, chutneys and preserves. That year the fruit remained unpicked.

    And the butler’s pantry stayed firmly locked.

    • I read this to my sister (both of them actually, two thumbs up from both of us). We love the name “Inscrutable.” I must think of something like that for a butler. I recall one of the butlers in a Georgette Heyer Regency had a great name (but of course I can’t remember the name! The story took place in Bath, that’s all I can remember). Then there was Sylvester’s nephew, Edmund, from Heyer’s “Sylvester, or The Wicked Uncle,” whose nanny is Button (love that!).

    • Delightful. I can’t decide which is the best name: Inscrutable or Uncle Philander. I wish I’d thought of them both 😀

    • (-: Oh, excellent! I can’t decide if I think the butler was merely a loyal servant with an axe of his own to grind, or if there was also a bit of hanky-panky going on between Hyacinth and Inscrutable (I’m mostly sure it would be post-Philander hanky-panky, although with some women, you never know. What’s good for the goose is sometimes what gets the gander and his little chicken-on-the-side stuffed into 500 little canning jars.)

  4. Late to the party, but oh so fun! I only used the phrase and maybe one word . . . possibly two. But it was enough to give me a little relief from my dry spell! Here goes:

    Miss Sally Claret had come from the city to live with her country cousins. Uncharitable souls in the neighborhood said she’d been let go from her position because she was too disagreeable for any employer to tolerate too long, but Miss Claret’s position was that jobs were a dime a dozen, but family were forever. And she was here to save her family from their horrible provincialism; to reform them into sensible people and to get rid of that mawkish, gothic streak that ran through to Charles Claret branch of the family.

    Uncle Charles had no time for his nephew, but he thought his niece might be a biddable wife for Bucky, Charles’ son and heir. (Sally, of course, felt cousin-marriage was the sort of mawkish, gothic idiocy she was meant to eradicate, but she knew an ally when she saw one, so bided her time and strung Uncle Charles along. Bucky was more enamored of a side of roast beef than his beautiful but prickly cousin, so she felt no worries about breaking his heart.) So, Charles put up with Sally’s antics and zeal, and even put up the funds for the murder mystery house party that Sally wanted to throw to introduce some city slickness to the country manor.

    Nobody thought to tell Sally about Great-Aunt Winnifred, who had been living locked in the attic for the past twenty years. Locked from Winnifred’s side, of course. The servants left picnic baskets outside the door each morning, and removed a paper bag of bones and trash and splintered rattan every evening. Great-Aunt Winnifred’s Annual Descent to the Parlor wasn’t to happen for another two months, so everyone had forgotten to block the attic stairs against the incursion of city guests. The servants, who were about fed up with Sally’s high-handed ways and outrageous demands, were gleefully laying bets as to just when Great-Aunt Winnifred would put a stop to the entire evening of nonsense. Long shots, all of them. It never paid to bet against Miss Sally Claret.

  5. Great effort Michaeline. Would love to know more about Miss Sally Claret and her efforts to eradicate that “mawkish, gothic streak.”

  6. What Elizabeth said. I’d love to see more of Miss Sally Claret. She sounds irresistible 🙂

    Also… ‘locked from Winifred’s side, of course.’ Ha!

  7. (-: I stole so hard from the book Cold Comfort Farm. To tell the truth, I didn’t like the heroine. I thought she was a bit full of herself and her ideas, kind of like the hero of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. I think Great-Aunt Winnifred is going to win the game . . . but you never know untll the last word is down on the paper.

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