Hello, and welcome to my 2022 April A to Z! For an explanation of what that is, click here.
This year, I am returning to the territory of the British Golden Age mystery novel. This time, I will be focusing on what is, to me, one of the most fascinating aspects of the murder mystery: the motives for murder that the investigators discover as the story progresses. At the beginning of the story, you have a (usually rather unpleasant) character, about whom you know very little. Then that character is murdered, and it turns out that everyone who knew the guy wanted him dead.
So I am going to make up a murder victim and then think up 26 different characters who wanted to kill him.
The victim’s name has been selected almost entirely at random from alphabetized lists of English names. After a long and arduous five-minute study of the options, I have decided to call him Sir Adam Bracegirdle Clutterbuck (or Sir A.B.C. for short). He is, as of now, almost entirely generic. His one distinguishing feature is a title, and I am not even (as yet) willing to commit myself on the subject of whether his title derives from a knighthood (bestowed for some service to the nation) or a baronetcy. The alert reader will perhaps have identified all of this nescience as a craven stratagem designed to leave myself the maximum amount of wiggle room. Because I will be making this up as I go along, and I will need all the wiggle room I can get.
At the moment, then, Sir Adam Bracegirdle Clutterbuck is just a name to me. I expect that he’ll turn out to be an utter fiend by the time this A to Z is complete, because twenty-six people have to want to murder him. But at the moment he is just another English gentleman, stabbed to death in his study in the cause of Literature. I say “stabbed to death,” but it might have been poison. Wiggle room!
Lots of people say that there are only 2, 3, 4, or 10 motives for murder. I’ve read countless articles with titles like “The Three Motives For Murder” or “The Two Actual Motives for Murder” or “The Four Basic Motives for Murder” or “There Are Ten Motives for Murder…And Here They Are, Listed in An Order That Made Sense in My Head.” I have never read an article arguing that there are 26 motives for murder. This on the surface looks like a bit of a problem. However, my A to Z isn’t framed in terms of essential motives (like “power” or “love”); instead, it will focus on specifics (like “because Sir A.B.C. stands between me and my dream of opening a hat shop”).
Let Me Make One Thing Quite Clear
This will not be a proper murder mystery. I did one of those for an A to Z Challenge once, and it was lots of fun, but it also ate my life. This year, I am just going to give you a bunch of character sketches. At the end, I won’t know who done it, and neither will you (though I will probably challenge my readers to pick which motive would be most satisfying in a book).
Anyway, I think and hope this will be fun.
See you on April 1st!
(AKA tomorrow… someday, I really will get my Theme Reveal done in time to go on the list… someday…)