Friday, May 11, 2007
Guess the Plot
1. All the kids know that Arnie pasted Miss June's Playboy photos to pages 52 through 61 of the school library's copy of Huckleberry Finn. When the principal starts to read the book to the seventh grade honors English class, hilarity ensues.
2. After his wife is strangled, 50-year-old Bruce finds a million dollars in her suitcase. Should he mention this to police detective Mort Meeker? Or will it give the suspicious Meeker the motive he's been looking for, assuring that Bruce will never be . . . Turning 51?
3. Etta Morble gets a windfall from Social Security when her real age is revealed. But 90-year-old Etta uses it for an Extreme Makeover, so once again she can claim to be . . . Turning 51.
4. Carlotta needs one more trick for a set of steak knives and membership in the exclusive 51 Club. But her pimp, Tully Del Monte, wants her to move to the lower east side, where there are no steak knives, no hip hooker clubs, and where Turning 51 is just another night on your back.
5. "OK, double or nothing again that THIS one is the Ace of Spades!" So spoke Monte MacIntosh just before he lost the family fortune to Ace Johnson, professional card shark and amateur magician. I'm Monte's sister, and I'm going to get our fortune back . . . one way or another.
6. The eternally youthful Queen Calaffa has a secret--she drinks the blood of women over fifty. If she doesn't she will lose her beauty . . . and her crown. But an underground movement is starting to fudge birth records to save women from the terror of . . . Turning 51.
Inspired by a real story, TURNING 51 is a finished 100,000 word mystery set in Big Woods, North Carolina where two conspiracies collide. One prevents the solving of a 16-year-old cold case of a murdered cop. The other seeks to put a husband accused of murder behind bars for life, or worse.
Heather Neumanski is dead. Acerbic Detective Mort Meeker accuses Bruce, her resourceful, but perplexed husband, of strangling her. The District Attorney forces reluctant Lieutenant Tony Dobson to arrest Bruce. When inexperienced public defender Chad Ratcliffe gets Bruce released the same day, the DA is irate. But freedom without vindication traps Bruce emotionally between mounting a defense and mourning his wife. [That's a lot of characters already. If you just said, Heather Neumanski has been strangled, and her husband Bruce is the chief suspect, you'd eliminate the information overload, and leave more space for important stuff.] [Just to make sure everyone's been paying attention, here's a quiz. No looking back. Match each character with the correct adjective.
a. Tony Dobson.....................1. resourceful
b. Mort Meeker....................2. acerbic
c. Chad Radcliffe...................3. reluctant
d. Heather Neumanski........4. inexperienced
e. Bruce Neumanski.............5. irate
f. The DA...............................6. dead
g. The Wizard........................7. perplexed
When Bruce finds nearly a million dollars and a handgun in Heather's locked suitcase in the attic, he can't tell the cops. [Not without embarrassing the cop who searched the attic, anyway.] The money fits their motive for her murder. The IRS claims Heather wasn't who she pretended to be. When the police don't seem to care who she really was, [The police are claiming Bruce killed her for money, yet they don't care what the IRS has to say?] Bruce investigates Heather's past regardless of the results and unaware of the one person who will do anything to ensure the past stays buried forever. [The gun is the one that was used to kill the cop. The money is blackmail. The cop killer killed Heather. I watched enough episodes of Perry Mason to know that blackmail is always the motive. By the way, we're much more likely to believe someone can solve a case if his name is Perry Mason than if it's Mort Meeker. Did you ever wonder why 007 is so famous, and 008 you never hear about? "James Bond" sounds cool. Babes aren't impressed when you say, "Meeker. Mort Meeker."]
[Title origination: The story starts the morning after Bruce Neumanski turns 50 and most everything ends shortly before he's to turn fifty-one. At some point in the middle of the story he laments that he hopes that when he turns 51 things will get better.]
It seems that if two conspiracies collide, you might talk about each of them a bit. There's not much here about the cop killing or how it's connected to the other conspiracy. In fact, there's not much about why it's considered a conspiracy against Bruce. I mean, when your wife gets strangled, you're bound to be a suspect. Didn't you see The Fugitive? Is there evidence upon which Meeker bases his accusation of Bruce?
If you conspire to frame a guy for murder, shouldn't you plant enough evidence to assure that he won't be released the same day he's arrested? These are some ham-handed bunglers involved in this conspiracy.
If Meeker's the detective, and he's accusing Bruce, why doesn't he arrest him?
Is this the kind of mystery that has several suspects? If so, who else wanted Heather dead?
We might become more emotionally involved if we know there's a ton of evidence, that Bruce is possibly being held on trumped-up charges. Releasing him immediately releases me from worrying about his problem.