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.
And now, for the last suspect: Zoe.
Zoe is a fairly prominent society lady, or as prominent as society ladies get in the rural solitude of Clutterbuck Parva and its environs. Anyway, she’s County, and is one of the people who gets invited to things. Which is sometimes a bit awkward, because she is entirely preoccupied with Theories. She has Theories like other people have rashes; she tends to break out in a crop of them all at once, and it is very uncomfortable while it lasts.
Her latest obsession is the stars, specifically as they relate to and exert influence over human affairs. She has mercilessly cast the charts of everyone she knows, and has just as mercilessly told her victims all about themselves, as reflected in their charts. This wouldn’t be a problem, except for the whole-hearted way in which Zoe does everything. What the charts tell her, she will, for the moment, thoroughly believe. It will be replaced by some other organizing belief-system in a few months, but for now, the Zodiac is All, and all-sufficient.
So, at the moment, she also believes what the charts tell her about Sir Adam. She and Sir Adam are in a dramatic state of opposition. This opposition is epic and fundamental: their moons are in opposing and war-like constellations, and this means that between them there can be only enmity, strife, and a primal clash.
She also doesn’t like Sir Adam at all.
Might she have decided that his murder is written in the stars?
And that’s it for Zoe—and for my list of suspects! Do you think Zoe makes a reasonable suspect, or is she better as a red herring? Personally, I see her as just being the sort of eccentric filler-character that these stories often contain. But, of course, that would be a very good way to conceal the killer from the reader, by making the reader assume that a character is just there to add a bit of color and to pad the cast out.
And now, the big question!
Reader, which of the available suspects would make the most dramatic, effective, satisfying killer if you were reading this in a mystery novel? Do you have a preference—or several?
I am not going to promise not to disappear after this A to Z. I have promised not to do that in the past, and then I have done it anyway. But! I may not vanish this year—anything is possible—and at any rate, I will do at least two more entries before I do vanish. Sometime in the next week or two, I will write a reflection on this A to Z. And at some point this summer, I will write and post a dramatic drawing-room-type scene (“then it was you, Mr. So-and-so, who…” etc.) to sort of wrap this story up.
So, I really, really want to know who you think is the best killer! I may or may not go with your choices, but I will try to do so. In fact, I only won’t go with at least one of your suggestions if I can’t make any of them work on the page. Or if I come up with something so devilishly clever that I absolutely cannot resist. At any rate, your ideas and suggestions will be incorporated as much as possible. So, if you have any further nifty thoughts, this would be a good time to come across with them. Any other interesting interpersonal tensions that you think ought to exist among the characters? How, for example, might Ingrid and Meghan feel about each other? Are there certain characters you’d like me to highlight?
So let me know! And I know that some people have been following this A to Z without commenting (I am looking at you, family members!), which is fine, but I want your input here, too, either by commenting on this post or by e-mail. Or, I mean, you could just tell me.
And let me just thank those of you who have been commenting regularly. Your participation has made this really fun for me. Thanks!