Josephine’s Justifiable Jealousy #AtoZChallenge 2022 Murder Motives

Hello, and welcome to my 2022 A to Z Challenge! For a detailed explanation of my theme this year, see my theme reveal. But basically, I am exploring classic mystery novel murder motives, by making up a victim (Sir Adam Bracegirdle Clutterbuck) and then coming up with 26 characters who wanted to kill him. It is part genre exploration and part world-building exercise.

Today’s suspect is Josephine. I’ve mentioned her already: she is Sir Adam’s neighbor, and the wife of Freddie the Frustrated Flat-Owner (which now I think about it is a catchier title than Freddie’s Field… oh well!). In my entry for “F,” I mentioned that Josephine was having an affair with Sir Adam at the time of his death… but that is not strictly true.


Josephine doesn’t like Sir Adam. Who could like Sir Adam? Of course she doesn’t like him. But–well, she worked damned hard to begin her affair with him, because he was so very tantalizingly rich. Now he seems to think that he can end the relationship. Just like that. With no tender parting scene, or word of explanation. He has just stopped sending Bruce over with secret messages for her, and won’t reply to any of Josephine’s secret messages, left in their very own hollow tree. In fact, he hasn’t even bothered to collect any of her latest secret messages. There are three of them there now, moldering in the tree, risking discovery at any moment.

And Josephine knows–she knows!–that there is some other woman. Of course there is. He is leaving her for someone else, and that is intolerable. How dare he? She seduced him fair and square, and now he belongs to her. And if she can’t have him…

Well, just maybe she feels that, if she can’t have him, no-one can.


And that’s it for Josephine. Short and (not) sweet. I admit calling Josephine’s jealousy “justifiable” is a bit of a stretch… but I imagine Josephine, at least, feels that her claim on Sir Adam is legitimate. You go to all the trouble of seducing a married man you don’t care about, and this is the reward??? Really, he could at least present her with several (expensive) parting gifts… and the fact that he hasn’t bothered to do so probably irritates Josephine quite a lot, too. Makes her feel disposable.

What do you think of Josephine as a suspect? How would you conceal and then reveal her guilt in a story? Or would you prefer her as yet another red herring? Or do you see her more as second-victim material? If she were the second victim in a story in which Sir Adam was the first victim, which of the other characters I have so far mentioned would you suspect of the murders?

Also, for those of you who have been reading regularly, who is your favorite suspect so far?


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  1. So many questions! I think Josephine is actually somewhat plausible because I am more likely to believe that a complete narcissist will kill for a stupid reason than that a reasonable person will kill for anything less than the most urgent of self-defense motives. I mean, generally speaking, I really don’t think murder is a very good idea. However, if Josephine becomes a subsequent victim, that puts Freddie right to the top of the list.
    Other top suspects for me at this point are probably Bruce and Dr Daniel (at least under my theory, but not as you initially described him). But I think Josephine and Freddie are my favorites at this point. Of course, we’re not even halfway…

    • I, too, have trouble envisioning any reasonable human being killing anyone. Which makes writing mysteries slightly tricky. I never quite believe my own carefully-constructed motives. I always think, “but they still wouldn’t actually do it, because that’s just silly.”

      So in that way, it is certainly helpful to have a bunch of unreasonable characters cluttering the story up. With unreasonable characters, unreasonable behavior is only to be expected.

      And yes, if Josephine becomes the second victim, I, too, would suspect Freddie.

      Bruce and Dr. Daniel, eh? I did like your idea about Dr. Daniel!

  2. Please hear me out. Suppose Josephine isn’t the unreasonable narcissist she appears to be. I mean really, what woman seduces an awfully wealthy awful person for the *hope* of a few expensive baubles? Everyone knows Freddie has a big mouth, so it stands to reason that Josephine knows about his plan to buy Sir Adam’s field in order to sell everything and move to London with his wife. Suppose Josephine seduces Sir Adam solely to manipulate him into selling her husband the field because she knows Sir Adam would never even meet with Freddie to discuss it otherwise. She gets it all set up, and then Freddie blows it. With their impending eviction, the dream of London’s social life evaporating into mist, no baubles of any price point, and Sir Adam ghosting her, Josephine is driven to contemplate the unthinkable to save their home. If she can only make it happen before anyone else learns of the eviction…

    It’s either Sir Adam or her own life as she knows it. Why, one might even see it as self-defense.

    • Sue–I love this! You have injected a little moral complexity into the character of Josephine, and your reasoning is sound. Josephine probably would know about Freddie’s plan, and might seduce Sir Adam to gain his co-operation. I also like the urgency you add with the idea of the eviction, because a ticking clock like that is always good. Although I’m not clear about who would be evicting them, exactly… I guess Freddie could fail to pay some loans and the bank or someone could take his house as payment… there could be a menacing mortgage… yes, that all sounds great. Good tension. I also like your phrases here, especially “an awfully wealthy awful person” and “no baubles of any price point.”

  3. Just stopping by on the A2Z to say “Hi”

    All the best for the rest of the challenge

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