Tag Archives: murder

Is fictional life too cheap?

FireproofPhil: Another new genre for my reading – the crazed psycho murder mystery.

Fireproof by Alex Kava is part of a series based around FBI detective Maggie O’Dell. She’s a criminal profiler and you’ll be unsurprised to learn, has a basket full of personal problems to contend with. In a weird way, it’s a bit chick-litty in that with a failed marriage in her past and a new boyfriend she can’t really open up to on the horizon, the series is almost a search for Mr Right, just with some dead bodies along the way.

It’s the bodies that made me feel uncomfortable.

Thinking about it, I’m not happy with the whole randomness of the death. Everyone who dies appears to be unconnected with the murderer and their murder is just to make a point to someone else.

If you spend your life getting under the skin (not literally, that’s the murderers) of these people, it’s hardly surprising you go nuts.

No, it’s the randomness, the cheapness of life that confuses me. I know they are fictional, but the people on the slab had imaginary lives leading up to a (usually) terrible demise. They grew up with hopes and dreams, snatched away by someone who could have made the same point by scribbling on a Post-it note.

You’re probably thinking I’m a stupid, sensitive soul – I do get that this is fiction and murders make more interesting crime stories than scrumping apples from a tree. One of the few box sets I own is the Inspector Morse series, but with this the murders were rarely random.

In real life, 80% of victims knew their killers. And there were only (only!) 640 in the UK in 2014 – you can see a map of them here if you want. That’s still 128 random killings but compares to 1,713 road deaths over the same period, 398 of whom were pedestrians. Essentially, you are over twice as likely to be run over as randomly murdered. Not forgetting that this 80% is only person knowledge and doesn’t include gang violence where collateral killings take place making the chances of being a victim even lower for “normal” people.

And yes, there is a superstitious part of me that thinks I might be increasing my own chances by writing about the low probability of this.

Basically, random murder is somewhat rarer in real life than it is in fiction. Maybe that’s what makes it so fascinating. I wonder though if spending all your time reading or watching (on films) random murder desensitises the viewer to it all?

All it makes me feel is icky. I think I prefer my books with a happy ending.

Oh, and I worked out whodunnit half way through.

1 Comment

Filed under Books, Phil, Writing

Murder Mystery Nights

Candice: Has anyone been on a murder mystery night?  I’ve been on one a long time ago for a Hen do.  To be honest we drank too much and couldn’t really keep track of what was going on.

However, Friday night I went to an amateur one, amateur performers but a professionally written play performed by them. The proviso was a wedding where the whole family were there and suddenly in the middle of the performance someone keeled over and died.  It was our job, as a table of 8, to work out who done it.

The deceased was the father of the groom, an obnoxious man who told everyone what he thought of them before keeling over. The rest of the wedding party then came round each table and you were able to ask questions about what you had seen or heard.  This turned into a bit of a bun fight as everyone on the table wanted to ask questions at once (and got progressively worse as they drank more Crabbies Ginger Beer).  At the end we had a conclusion…however it wasn’t the same conclusion across the table!

After a vote we decided on the answer but I didn’t agree, it seemed too obvious to me.  The murderer was supposedly the wife of the deceased, killing him for being cruel to her.  Well, the fact she had her arm in a sling was a bit of a give away.

However, that was the consensus and we went with… and we were right.  Or rather the table was.

But to me it did not ring true.  In my world of plotting, she was too much of an obvious subject and I thought it was some else, some one more subtle.  However, in all my reading and watching these kind of programmes perhaps I am looking for the red herring before the actual culprit.  This show did not break off 10 mins before the end to have an advert break before announcing who the real killer was, which messed up my usual lines of deduction.

So, am I not as good as I thought I was?  Perhaps I’m just better as murder dramas for TV or film, not for entertainment on a Friday night in the local community hall.  Good show though!

Leave a comment

Filed under Candice, Writing

The Cathedral Killer (Part 2)

Sorry about this, we posted the first half of this short story back in July and have only just got around to putting up the second half of the tale.

You may want to re-read Part One unless you have an amazing memory…


7pm at Deansgate and she was on her own in a deserted street. To occupy the time she re-read the flyer her boss had dumped on her desk earlier. 

“The Gruesomest Ghost Walk in York” It screamed, with letters written in bright red that seemed to be dripping blood.  Detailing the meeting place and snippets on the tour, with a few juicy quotes from supposed impressed tourists, it didn’t seem any different from any other tour.  She couldn’t understand why he’d picked it over the multitude of others. 

Flicking over to the back, there seemed to be a new sticker positioned over some of the copy.  “Exclusive insights into the newest string of murders in York.  Get into a serial killer’s mind, as we walk you round the fresh sights of the famous Cathedral killer.” 

YORK MINSTER - 4Ah ha, she thought, that might explain it.  The City had seen a string of brutal killings over the last six months buy the now infamous Cathedral killer.  He picked souls from the tourists in the city, cut them up in gruesome ways and adorned tourist hotspots around the city centre with the leftovers.  The name had come as the first victim had been an American, found on the steps of the Minster so badly mutilated, they’d only been able to identify his nationality by the loud check trousers he’d been wearing.

The Police were baffled and the paper had been having a great time coming up with pun head lines.  She remembered the opening story, “ The First Cut is the Deepest.” She shivered, partly from the rain and partly the thought of most recent killing.

By 7.10pm, she was starting to wonder if the tour guide had given up when a tall, slim man walked towards her. “Here for the tour?” he asked, raising an eyebrow. “Looks like it might just be you and me.”

His dark eyes starred at her intently, she found it a bit unnerving and turned away embarrassed. 

“Yes, thanks, got a night on my own and I’m new to the area, so though I’d come along. “ She giggled nervously, at the lie. No point in letting on she was from the paper, he’d want to give her the third degree about when it would be coming out and would the photographer catch his best side. Anyway, her piece was supposed to be mystery shopping the experience not pandering to the vanity of a man wearing a frock coat and top hat.

“Haven’t I seen you here before?” The tour guide asked, Josie shook her head.

“Must be mistaken, anyway lovely girl like you shouldn’t be on your own,” he said, salaciously. 

Turning round, they realised that a few other hard core tourists had arrived, wrapped up in fleeces and ponchos.  One was already snapping away.

“Follow me, please, Ladies and Gentlemen, for a Ghost tour like one you have never experienced before.”  The guide, turned, raised his arm and began marching off down the street.

An hour later and Josie was rapidly loosing interest.  The tourists were really getting on her nerves, constantly asking questions and stopping to take interminable photos.   It didn’t help that the rain had returned, heavier than before. Some of the group had wandered off to find somewhere warm to have a medicinal brandy and the guide looked like he’d prefer to join them.

“Here we see the last resting place of Mary of Goves.  The story is that her ghost walks up and down this staircase, down where she was said to be pushed by her husband when he found out the child she was carrying was that of his brother.  Driven mad with grief after killing her, he is said to be see begging for her mercy at the foot of the stairs.”  

Josie looked, but all she could see were urine stained, moss covered steps to a long closed building.  Even though, the whole experience was giving her the willies.

As she turned around, she jumped out of her skin.  Behind her a tall creature, dressed all in black, seeming to be floating towards her.  Stifling a scream, she realised peeking out of the bottom of the black costume were a pair of white trainers. 

“Stop it,” she shouted at the figure as it began to lean in towards her.  “Woow WOOW.” It circled her.  Looking around she spotted the tour guide and two tourists giggling.

“Look, this isn’t funny,” she crossed her arms and stared at what she thought was the head.

One last round of wooing and the creature stopped and pulled back its hood.  Josie drew in a breath as the creature’s face was revealed.  Tousling a mop of surfer blonde hair, a pair of bright blue eyes bore down on her. “Gotcha!” The creature in-toned, in a voice with a touch of Australian. 

OMG, thought Josie, as she looked at the man, perhaps it was worth staying out after all.  He was drop dead gorgeous, and as the cape opened she could see a surfer’s body under a tight fitting t-shirt.

“Everyone, this is Brad, my Australian friend, he’s visiting town and thought he’d add an extra something to my tour.” The Guide said, with a slightly pained expression. “Sorry, Miss, he thought you might like it.”

“It’s OK, I’m fine, he didn’t bother me.”  Josie tried to cover her tracks, feeling slightly embarrassed.

“Right everyone, onwards ! It’s time for the new and exclusive part of the tour, the Cathedral Killer walk.”  He strode off towards Stonegate.

Brad fell into step with Josie.  “Hi. It was only a joke, you know.  Rolf has been having trouble getting enough people for his tour, so we thought we could add something different to get some hype.”

“Is that why you are doing the Cathedral Killer ? It all seems a bit recent and insensitive doesn’t it?” Josie queried.  She wondered how much they knew about the murderer and then shivered at the thought.

“Yes, that was my idea.” Brad explained, “I’ve been over here for about six months, I’m back packing round Europe. When we spotted the stuff in the paper and Rolf said he was struggling, I thought it would be a good twist.”

“How do you guys know each other?” 

“We met a few years ago, at a surfing event in Oz.  Rolf was travelling, and we got talking.  It’s the first chance I’ve had to come and visit him.” Brad explained.

“Surfing, and he ended up in York?”  Josie raised a puzzled eyebrow.

“We’ll yes, Rolf always says he was born in the wrong city. I’m just hanging at his house, getting some bar work, you know, before I can continue travelling.”

Josie realised they’d come to the next stop on the tour, and suddenly she was really enjoying herself.  Don Draper he might not be, but she wasn’t averse to a bit of Neighbours.  The wind whistled down a back street so she pulled her coat tighter.

They had stopped at the side of the Minster. “Are you cold?”  Brad put his arm round her shoulder, “Would you like my cape?”

“No, no, I’m fine thanks.” Josie felt herself melting.  Pull yourself together girl and stop thinking with your knickers, she thought, you are here to do a job.

College Street, YorkAfter the Minster, the next stop was College Street. Victim two had been found slumped on the bench under the sundial, head hanging over the edge of the seat where it had nearly been severed. At the Post, they had been able to get a photographer there before the body had been moved. Putting that picture on the front had lit up the letters page for a couple of weeks with people whining about insensitivity.

Josie was shivering again and finally accepted Brad’s cape. As she wrapped it around her his imperviousness to the weather momentarily annoyed her. Was he cold blooded? The wet t-shirt was nice to look at though…

Monkgate next. At least there was some cover this time as victim number three had turned up under the arches. Well nearly. The Police thought he’d been running from his attacker and tripped and fallen, with the killer just finishing him off where he lay. The anorak-wearing tourist had been last seen coming out of the toy shop and the murderer had positioned his victims purchase, a toy train, emerging from a tunnel where his liver had been. 

BILE BEANSFrom there it was a short walk to the Bile Beans sign for the next victim. Rolf’s description of the scenes got ever more lurid. One of the crowd was looking decidedly

unhappy with this. Josie wondered how long his stomach would hold as yet another spurt of blood was re-enacted. Listening carefully, she realised that a lot of these descriptions didn’t seem to have appeared in the paper’s coverage.

Passing the University for victim five, the group made it to Gillygate and after a trudge that was mercifully free of stops, arrived at the Art Gallery. Josie recalled from the now sodden flyer that this was the end of the tour.

Rolf stopped to sign the Japanese couple’s guidebook. Brad laughed at this.

“He thinks he’s some kind of celebrity. I think he hopes that one day some big-shot producer will turn up on the tour and discover him.”

She giggled. “Yeah, one day it’s trudging around a soggy city telling ghost stories, the next it’s the bright lights of LA”

“At least it won’t be raining” replied Brad. “Listen, shall we go somewhere a little bit warmer?”

Josie considered the proposal for a second.  This wasn’t some B-movie, she knew her way round the city and wouldn’t be taken down a dark alley by mistake.  All that talk of murder had unnerved her slightly, but Brad smiled and she found herself nodding.

He lead the way. Along Swinegate. Across the square and down through the Shambles. It was late, dark and getting wetter. “I know a great bar down here,” said Josie, getting fed up with Brad’s wandering.

Brad was looking less surfer and more drowned rat. “Oh, OK,” he replied, slightly disappointed.  Perhaps a drink might make his idea of continuing to his flat for some fun more likely though.

Now it was Brads turn to be unsure where they were going. Skating on the cobbles of Foosgate, he could see the city walls at the end of the road. She stopped on a small bridge and looked over the edge.

“I’ve always liked this bit of the city. It’s for the real people, not the day trippers.”

“Nothing wrong with day trippers love. They pay mine and Rolf’s rent”

“I know. Smug bastards. Always getting in the way. Never think of themselves. Not real at all.”

She pointed at something along the river. Brad strained his eyes to see what she was indicating, pressing up against the balustrade. The blade came out of no-where, cutting across his neck.  Hand over the pumping blood from his throat, he fell, turning to see Josie poised, a large kitchen knife in her hand. 

“York’s MY City, remember that you bloody tourist.” 

Turning away from his dying body, Josie wiped the knife on Brad’s cloak and threw it in the river. The weapon was stashed back under her coat. She hoped just killing the City’s visitors would have put off the tourists, but no, some of the tour providers would need to be attended too as well.

Twisted smile on her lips, she began the long walk home in the rain pondering, I wonder if Rolf will like the new stop for his tour ?


We entered this in a short story competition and recived some feedback, which will be shared with you next week.

1 Comment

Filed under Candice, Phil, Writing

Murder we wrote

Kill the doughnut ! Kill ! Kill !Phil: Embarking on a short story sabbatical, we needed to come up with our first plot line. They, whoever they are, say “Write what you know”. So since we used to work together at a firm where we wanted to kill all our colleagues, a murder seemed appropriate.

Actually, that’s not true, not the murdering the workmates bit, but the reason. It’s more to do with the books we read and especially the TV programmes we watch. Candice mentioned Lost Girl and other top TV shows a few posts ago and as we chatted we briefly considered the realm of fan fiction.

For lots of people this is writing what they know. Get obsessive enough about a single TV show and you could consider that you know more about the characters in it than the people you meet every day. It’s certainly likely that it’s a heck of a lot more interesting than your real life. I know I wouldn’t want to watch me on telly 24 hours a day.

We know the short story needs instant drama and what could be more dramatic than a death ? It might be that this is old hat but we’re just starting with the story thing so why not shoot at the easy target while we get our writing eye in ? More to the point, we could both name TV shows dealing with the subject we enjoyed so there is a demand out there.

Not everything ran smoothly of course. Yes, we bounced ideas around like a tennis ball in a washing machine but on returning to work after our lunchtime chat, I’d had a few ideas in the car. Trying to e-mail them over to Candice, it seems that the e-mail system where she works is set to work against potential killers by rejecting such messages. Not to worry, a little ingenious misspelling sorted that out.

That trick doesn’t stop us being on the receiving end of some very odd looks in the pub when we sit there and talk about methods of implicating two innocent people in the killings of course. If you see the next post starting Prisoner 229544 then you know our excuse wasn’t convincing enough !


Filed under Phil, Writing