Is Elizabeth Keen Really Dead?

lizzie keen

I don’t know about you, but I am addicted (there I said it!) to the NBC show, The Blacklist. For four seasons I have watched while the ever story telling Red Reddington has dazzled and dazed me, causing me to ask countless questions, like:

  • Are you Lizzie’s father?
  • Who is Lizzie’s mother and was she really a Russian spy?
  • Can you answer a question without telling a story to illustrate your point?
  • Why do so many women find you irresistible?

Is this another fake out?

Over the four seasons of the show we have been faked out. We originally thought that Tom, Lizzie’s husband was just a cute, somewhat nerdy elementary school teacher. Only to discover he was a Russian spy or is that agent, then to find out that Red hired him, to now discovering he is Liz’s true soulmate. A once heartless killing machine who has found his soul thanks to true love. And then sadly to lose the love of his life and the reason for his salvation on the day their daughter is born.

But has he? Is Lizzie Keen really dead? I have my doubts. Just like I did when she was a blonde for a whole season. Or when all clues pointed to her becoming a sort of surrogate daughter in crime with Red.

Her funeral is in the next episode, how might they bring her back after that?

The next episode is to center around Liz’s funeral and then the requisite pursuit of her killer. Which personally I found a little confusing because I thought she died because of complications from the car accident and delivery. But you know, it’s episodic television, so okay.

Anyway, here is my theory:

Liz isn’t really dead but in order to protect her from the shadow agents/group pursuing her presumably because of her Russian spy mother’s sins, the whole world must believe she is dead for the time being.

Once Red and the whole special FBI task force has located the real threat to her, it will be revealed that she has been living in a FBI safe house in Oklahoma, donning a red wig and Birkenstoks.

She only seemed dead and looked dead because the doctor, who we already know was friends with Liz injected some super magical drug that made her look that way. The body used in the funeral will turn out to be a double or even made of wax. I mean who’s going to check to be sure?

Naturally, Tom will feel a bit miffed for having had to raise Agnes on  his own for a year or so, but he’ll be so happy that he doesn’t have to be a single dad, that he’ll soon forgive her.

Though of course they won’t be able to jump into Tom’s boat and set sail for the happily ever after. Somehow Agnes will become the center of some plan or Tom will be tempted to return to his own life. Or Liz will mount her own investigation into who her mother and father really is.  Heck, maybe that’s what she’s doing now, while everybody, including Red thinks she’s dead.

What are your theories?

So there you have it, my theory. Do you have one? Do you like me, think that Lizzie is still alive only to reappear at some later date, or is the Blacklist just becoming its own spinoff and morphing into a whole new show? Feel free to float any theories you like in the comments.

Pretty Little Liars – Is Mona Really Dead?

mona

Anyone who has watched more than three episodes of PLL knows that nothing is ever at it seems. That’s why we’re hooked, because the producers and writers are so good at fooling us.

For years the producers convinced us that Ally was dead only to reveal not so long ago that Ally was not dead and had been on the run all that time. (Although the pragmatist in mean wonders how they could’ve buried the wrong girl, believing it to be Ally. DNA would’ve been used to establish identity and had it been used it wouldn’t have come back as an i.d. for Ally. But I digress…) And they also made us believe that Ezra and Toby were A. Not so much.

Where is Mona really and what is she doing?

Mona has always been a bit of a chameleon on the show, shedding one skin only to expose another. And consequently has had as many lives as a cat. She’s the character we love to hate, love to suspect, love to fear and ultimately feel sorry for because she is the epitome of the insecure high school girl who no matter how hard she tries only really wants acceptance and to fit in.

Right now we are to believe Mona is dead and Ally killed her. Hey we’ve got a video with a blonde stabbing her, right? Yes and no. We have the video but it’s all weird angles and blurs and we never see the attacker’s face. And while we were all sure that she was in that industrial barrel in the storage locker, surprise, it’s not her. Probably next season we’ll learn it’s CeeCee or Meredith or just some homeless guy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I believe Mona is still alive and hiding out. Remember that hitherto unknown friend who just showed up in town? She’s blonde, right? What if Mona and her ‘friend’ cooked up the idea of setting up Ally? They staged the video and the crime scene and voila she’s dead. Mona is so tech savvy the video would’ve been a snap for her to make and she’s not squeamish either, so drawing a vile of her own blood she could’ve done without blinking. And most importantly, they can’t find her body. Now I know that Ally is resourceful but how far could she have taken a body and gotten rid of it? She’s just one 120 pound teenage girl after all. Also Mike’s mysterious behavior gives me pause. The bag of candy on the pier? Is it for Mona? Does he know she’s alive and Mike is helping her to get some much deserved payback? Could be. But to me, the fact that they never found Mona’s body tells me she is still alive.

I guess we’ll find out next season.

What do you think? Is Mona dead? If so, where is her body? Did Ally kill her or somebody else? Or, like me, do you expect her to show up in the flesh much like Ally did?

Writer Chick
Copyright 2015

Movie Review – Gone Girl

Gone-Girl-2014-film-poster

 

I caught Gone Girl this weekend and I have mixed feelings about it. I thought the story was compelling but I hated the direction and cinematography. So I’m not sure if I can say I loved it.

The premise is that Nick Dunne comes home to find his wife, Amy, has disappeared on the day of their 5th anniversary. There are signs of a struggle in the living room and he can’t find his wife anywhere. He contacts the police, who are somewhat cold and stand-offish.

Nonetheless, Nick cooperates with the police in their investigation of his wife’s disappearance. He surrenders his house to allow the police to search and shortly the whole thing becomes a media parade. Is she dead? Has she been kidnapped? Did Nick have anything to do with it? The missing woman becomes a sort of folk hero and a larger than life symbol for oppressed women.

Naturally, things continually go south for Nick. It looks bad. It looks really, really bad for him and public opinion gets worse and worse.

I don’t want to provide any spoilers but I will say there are some very nice and well executed twists. The writing is excellent, dialogue and characterizations spot on. Very well done in that regard. And the story is better than most recent thriller/mysteries I’ve seen lately.

What I didn’t like was the grainy, faded cinematography that had the look of a student film in my opinion. I imagine that choice was made to give the story a texture of grit and a feeling of hopelessness, but for me it just made it hard to follow and in some case see what was going on. Also the transitioning from one scene to the next was done oddly. If you watch the film, you’ll see what I mean. I found that very distracting. And the story jockeyed back and forth from present day to the past, which if you looked away from the screen for a minute could be really confusing. And flashbacks, especially when there are a lot of them are hard to do well in a film because it makes you feel like you’re standing still.

Overall, I’d say the film was worth the price of admission and would give a three out of five on the viewing scale.

So, if you’re looking for a decent mystery that may surprise you in the end, you’ll probably enjoy this one.

Review: Lowcountry Bribe, Carolina Slade Mystery – Book One

review lowcountry bribe

This is a book I’ve been meaning to read for a long time. My bad, I should have gotten to it right away because I denied myself a good read for too long.

C Hope Clark’s break out novel, Lowcountry Bribe delivers

Clark is adept at creating a great sense of place and culture and does it with ease in Lowcountry Bribe. She provides us with spunky, quirky characters that are immediately likeable and recognizable. The reality of small town living is depicted well – everybody knows everybody and their business, wagging tongues ceaselessly work behind the scenes wreaking havoc, while local politicians manipulate circumstances to their own benefit.  And our spunky kick-ass heroine quickly learns how terribly wrong things can go in her idyllic small town life.

Carolina Slade who goes by the handle ‘Slade’ manages a local Department of Agriculture office in a small southern town. She’s smart, ambitious and can spot horse pucky a mile away. When out of the blue she is offered a bribe by one of her farmer loan customers, she ruminates over whether to report it (as is the policy) or let sleeping dogs lie. Because she has a conscience and personal integrity she does the right thing and reports it – having no idea the can of worms she has opened.

Who knew that working in the local agricultural office could be so dangerous?

Instead of just reporting the bribe to the investigator who is sent to interview her, doing the paperwork and being done with it, Slade is pulled deeper and deeper into a web of deceit and lies.  The investigator sent in to take the report convinces Slade to become part of a sting, implying there are bigger things at play than the bribe. Already distressed about her rocky marriage and office politics, Slade reluctantly goes along with the plan, despite misgivings.  She is rewarded for doing the right thing by being punished severely from expected and unexpected sources. No good deed goes unpunished should be this gal’s mantra. The more she tries to get things wrapped up, the more they unravel and affect both her professional and personal life negatively. And her blossoming attraction to the investigator on the case, who has secrets of his own, only further confuses and complicates her life.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so I’ll leave it at this:

Slade is the kind of character you care about and would call a friend if she lived next door or down the street. Every step of the way you’re pulling for her and hoping she’s going to get out of the mess she’s gotten herself into. Lowcountry is a good read and I stayed up past my bedtime to finish it. Definitely made me want to read the next one. I recommend it to mystery fans looking for a good solid mystery. Available at Amazon and other book outlets.

The above is my opinion and I was neither paid, nor asked to write this review.

Writer Chick
Copyright 2014

Why I Write Mysteries

why I write mysteries

I’ve always been afraid of things that go bump in the night. In fact, it’s 4:30 a.m. and instead of dreaming of sugar plums or unicorns I’m awake because of a recurring dream where something not quite human has me trapped and is going to kill me if I don’t wake up. Like the devil, he has many faces and shapes but regardless of the assumed identity, it is the same creature-spirit that pursues me in my sleep and chases me back to the conscious world.

Possibly, I write mysteries because of my personal dream mystery? Anything is possible.

My analytical mind tells me I write mysteries because I love puzzles and I love justice. Hokey as it may be, I cheer when the bad guy gets what he deserves. I celebrate the demise of tyrants no matter how large or small their kingdoms. I never tire of good triumphing over evil. And yes, Virginia, there is good and there is evil. If you don’t think so, I suggest you read books by authors such as John Douglas and Ann Rule.  Or just pick up a copy of  In Cold Blood

Regardless of the psychobabble that abounds, there’s nothing that explains away the acts of evil that are perpetrated against the innocent man, woman or child.  As I write this, children are being beheaded on the other side of the world, because of opposing religious beliefs. If that isn’t evil, than I don’t know what is. Can that be blamed on bad childhoods or brain disorders? Absolutely not. No moral relativism here, my friends.

And like the devil of my dreams, evil has many faces – an angelic adolescent, a cranky old man, a charming politician, a beautiful woman, a brilliant academic. You can never know them by their looks or position in life, you can only know them by their actions.

But why write about it? Good question.

It’s easy to understand why a writer would pen a romance because don’t we all want love in our lives? Or adventure because most of us live lives of routine and predictability. Who doesn’t fantasize about a larger than life experience? Science fiction and fantasy present worlds where the possibilities are endless and limited only by the imagination – what’s not to love there?

Solving a puzzle is a satisfying accomplishment and seeking justice is laudible. But murder and mayhem is not for sissies. It’s messy, often bloody and immerses you into the basest desires of men. Who wants to write about that? And why?

There are many reasons I suppose that a writer might choose mysteries. Maybe because there are so many  mysteries in life that we cannot solve, that we cling to something concrete, that only requires we follow the clues and find the evidence to resolve it. Or that solving that mystery reassures us that the natural order of things have been restored and life is safe to live once again. Or maybe it’s something altogether different. Or maybe different for every mystery writer who ever lived.

For me, the appeal of writing mysteries is the way it makes your blood boil and your heart pound. The pursuit of the truth of that tiny universe of hunter versus killer (ironically) makes you feel so damned alive. Engages you. Seduces you. Keeps you up at night. It’s a slap in the face with a shovel handle. It’s the involuntary gasp and jump when a floor board creaks. It’s an adrenaline high unlike any other. And quite possibly addictive. And that goes for writer and reader alike.

No matter what else man is, he is a curious beast at heart. And nothing will drive a human being more nuts than an answer that eludes him. Particularly if the one posing the questions is adept at making it seem easy yet interesting. “Step into my web,”  said the spider to the fly.

In America, mysteries became particularly popular during the Depression which was the heyday of pulp fiction. Mysteries were once looked upon as the poor man’s reading material (and perhaps they still are, genre fiction often isn’t taken seriously) – unlike literary fiction meant for the finer mind (ahem). But I reject that classification – to me mysteries:

  • Engage the mind
  • Make you think
  • Teach you to solve problems
  • Increase your alertness
  • Sharpens your observatory skills
  • And probably helps your endocrine system what with all that adrenaline pumping

What fine mind couldn’t use a good dose of the above? Got me.

Why do you read or write mysteries?

Next to romance, mystery novels are the most popular form of fiction among readers. Do you write mysteries? What drew you to the genre? Do you read mysteries? Have you called in sick to work so you could finish or stayed up all night just to finish one? Do you find the genre as addictive as I?

Feel free to agree with me, challenge me, debate me or enlighten me in the comments.

Writer Chick
Copyright 20014

Why do people love mysteries?

Are we all armchair detectives at heart?

why do you love mysteries?I don’t know about you but I have always loved a mystery.  Whether it was why Mrs Stefanski from down the street was so secretive about where she bought her spring bulbs or how my dog Rusty ended up in the willow tree, nothing has ever gotten my engines roaring like a mystery.

Maybe it’s genetic?

My dad was a diehard Mickey Spillane fan and various other mystery writers.  Both Mom and Dad couldn’t pass up a crossword puzzle without trying to work it and the whole family regularly gathered around the TV to watch shows like:

  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
  • The Avengers
  • The Saint
  • Twilight Zone
  • Columbo
  • Dragnet
  • The Fugitive
  • I Spy
  • Ironside
  • Mannix

So it could be that some humans just possess the mystery gene.  Anything is possible, right?

Maybe it’s just human nature

Personally, I think people love mysteries because it’s just part of human nature.  We humans are a curious lot and what could make you more curious than a mystery, whether it’s a story, a true crime or just something that puzzles you – a mystery sucks you in.  Curiosity has killed more than the cat.

Another part of human nature is that we like to solve things. Of all the creatures on the earth, I think humans are the only creatures that must solve problems, whether they are their own or belong to others. In real life, though that kind of behavior can get you in a big vat of boiling water. It’s much easier to read a mystery and try to solve the imaginary problem of whodunit – and when you do, you feel so clever too! It’s a win-win situation.

And lastly, I think people love mysteries because typically justice is served in the end.  The bad guy is caught and gets his or her just deserts, the loose ends are tied up and everything leads to a logical conclusion.  Again, in life you could seriously hurt yourself trying to get any kind of justice – but reading a book that’s not risky at all.  It satisfies our need to see things set right and nobody else even has to be involved.

Personally, I love mysteries for all of the above reasons and also because reading mysteries has helped me develop my own critical thinking.  It has taught me how to evaluate information, examination things below the surface and take random pieces of information and form a picture that leads to a solution.  Of course, this is my own belief and no scientists were harmed in reaching this conclusion.

Why do you love mysteries?

But how about you?  Do you love mysteries?  Why? Would you rather read a mystery over any other type of book?  What’s the best mystery story ever written?  I’d love to know what you think.

Writer Chick

Copyright 2013

The Mind Hunter and Some Tips for your Mystery Story

Back before, The Profiler, Criminal Minds, Jack Crawford in Silence of the Lambs, and Thomas Harris the writer of said, Silence of the Lambs, there was the original Mind Hunter.

His name is John E. Douglas and he and small unit of other FBI agents took it upon themselves to ‘study’ and interview countless violent offenders to see if there existed common denominators among them.  And indeed they did discover that there were.

You may have heard of or read about the ‘triad’ that can be a predictor of future violent criminal behavior, namely bed wetting, cruelty to animals and arson.  Well, Mr. Douglas and his team were the ones who discovered that.

Although pop culture, movies and current fiction all connect criminal ‘profiling’ to the field of psychology, in fact, it didn’t evolve out of psychology at all.  It was the result of hundreds of hours of interviews and the codification of behaviors from actual criminals.  And although understanding the psyche of the human mind would certainly assist a profiler, it is not a prerequisite.  At least it wasn’t back in the day.

Since I have always loved mysteries and true crime and also write mysteries, John Douglas’s books were always of great interest to me.  In fact, this last week I have been re-reading The Anatomy of Motive.  Fascinating, really fascinating stuff.

In fact, he has an exceedingly simple formula in his book that leads him to the offender in cases.  Why + How = Who.  Any mystery writer out there reading might want to note that down.  Simply put, you assess what is happening, then you have to ask yourself and others involved why it might be happening and the answers to those two questions will likely lead you to who is committing the crime.

In his own words, Douglas explains: In every case we come across, the first question we ask is why?  Why is this happening?  Why does somene want to do something to this particular person or this particular company?  What does the threatener actually want?  Does the motive appear to be financial gain? Love? Sex? Vengeance? Punishment? Recognition? Excitement? Guilt? Satisfaction? Hate? Attention?  What is the threatener telling us with the threat to our or someone else’s well-being?

And while I write what is known in the mystery genre as cozies/amateur sleuth stories, I still see clearly how I can use Douglas’s experience and wisdom to enhance and improve my story.

This link  will lead you to a list of the many books Douglas has written but they should also be available at the library as well.

Another cool tip

In an earlier post I talked about taking the plunge and actually doing an outline for my new book, which is how this post came up because I was doing research for it, which led me back to the book.  Anyway….

In that previous post about outlining, I linked to the Sherlock Holmes Mystery Story Template.  It’s also pretty darn cool and I found this nugget in there:

The key to plotting a mystery is to understand that a mystery story is really three stories: The story of how/why the antagonist committed his crime, the story of how/why the crime affected the harbinger and the story of how/why the detective solved the case. The easiest way to weave these together is to write them in this order and then splice them together in the format explained above.

So the first thing you need to do is to write a dark crime story starring the antagonist.

Now, this has probably been written somewhere sometime but I’ll be darned if I’ve ever seen it before.  If I have, it definitely didn’t impinge. But it has now.  If you write mysteries too then you might want to write it down yourself.

Anyway, I’m happy to report, that although the outline is going slowly, I do have all my main characters figured out and have decided on a manner of death for my victim.  Writing mysteries is such fun.

And do watch the interview with Douglas above in the video – really interesting stuff.

Okay, good writing to you!

Writer Chick

Copyright 2013