Tuesday, April 27, 2010

In Search of a Murder

By Chester Campbell

I'm in the market for a plot. Not a plot of ground, but a plot for murder. I'm gearing up for my second Sid Chance mystery, and I need an exciting case to challenge his talents. It would be nice if I could look out my office window and find an inspiration for a good plot. But let's face it, I live in a boring neighborhood.

How nice it would be to live like my colleague Ben Small, out there in rattlesnake country, where deadly critters lie in wait for somebody to invite them in. Or maybe have a neighbor like the guy Beth Terrell wrote about who kept for pets such things as Komodo Dragons (or was it Kimono Dragons, no, that wold be Japanese).

I guess the worst I've seen out my writer's perch is young guys going down among the trees toward a creek that flows out of sight. I learned they had a nice setup with folding lawn chairs where they smoked pot. Some of the neighbors took offense and invited the cops to join the festivities. Unfortunately, I wasn't here to enjoy the proceedings. Needless to say, the party room was shut down.

Of course, Nashville has its share of homicides. It seems there's some sort of altercation on the news most every evening. I suppose I should be happy they don't take place  in my neighborhood, but it would be so convenient to stand by my window, or venture outside if necessary, and watch the cops do their thing. They'd have to import a body from elsewhere, since I wouldn't want any neighbor to be the guy decorated with a garland of yellow crime scene tape.

In today's paper we have a couple of interesting court cases to consider. One involves a woman charged with strangling her husband. He had filed for divorce and gotten an order of protection to keep her away from his house, where he lived with their three kids. That's a bit of a switch from the usual wife getting an order to keep an abusive husband at bay. She admitted going to the house and taking the kids away but claimed she didn't see her husband. A housekeeper saw him, dead in the bedroom closet.

I could go with the serial killer angle. We have one of those back in the news. He's a long-haul truck driver who's accused of murdering several women at truck stops around the country. While awaiting trial on one that occurred at a truck stop near downtown Nashville, the prosecutors say he arranged with a fellow jail mate to kill a few witnesses. He recently got thirty years for that, but his lawyers are asking for a new trial on the basis of court errors. They didn't mention the errors he made in setting up the proposed killings.

So many murders to consider, so little time before I have to get to work on the book. Ah, the perils of a mystery writer. I may just have to flip a coin. Heads he goes after a serial killer, tails he tracks down a husband choker. I'm not too thrilled by either of those, however. The excitement in the neighborhood will just have to pick up and lead to a totally new concept. Now that would be intriguing.


Jean Henry Mead said...

I would go with the husband choker, Chester. Serial killings have been done to death. :)

Beth Terrell said...

There was a case here back in the...50s, I think...in which a man was found stabbed with a samurai sword. His wife confessed to killing him, but the police suspected her son was the real killer. The woman said she and her husband had been arguing about her son, and in an attempt to lighten the mood and relieve the tension, she climbed up on the bed, removed the antique samurai sword from the wall, and brandished it in fun just as her husband lunged at her, accidentally impaling himself on the sword. Police wondered why, if she'd been standing on the bed, the bedclothes weren't rumpled.