I had the honor of speaking at the Smithsonian last night, leading a seminar called “How to Plan a Murder in DC.” I didn’t actually teach any deadly moves, but talked about how DC serves as a great setting for thrilling stories in novels and TV. As part of the seminar, the audience helped plot a murder using people, places and motives that are uniquely DC. We took suggestions and voted – winners got copies of my books (of course). The winning plot – and their creators – are listed here:
Setting: The Library of Congress (Janice McLean)
Killer: The Director of the FBI (Charles Leven)
Victims: The Nationals Relief Pitcher (Charles Cowan) and the CIA Director (Cathy Wiley)
Method: With a baseball bat (Lisa King)
Motive: The pitcher is a spy, and the CIA director was covering it up (Jennifer Skidmore)
This was a mishmash of ideas, but all together, I actually think this could be a decent novel.
Incidentally, Cathy Wiley, the woman who suggested the CIA director as a victim, was at the seminar with three other women… who were celebrating her bridal shower! I asked if Cathy’s husband-to-be knew that she was having her bachelorette party at a “How to Plan a Murder” seminar, and she said he wasn’t worried. At least she has an alibi for last night. Congratulations, Cathy, and thanks for making my seminar your last hurrah as a single lady.
While we’re plotting murders in DC, here are a few more suggestions, from friends who helped me brainstorm this on Facebook:
Tim Hepp: “With a fountain pen in the Politics & Prose fiction room.”
Ed Uthman: “Murder in the Ford Theater, then posing the body in the diorama in the Natural History Meusum, leaving the clue, ‘Sic semper Tyrannosaurus.'”
Professor Ross Emmett: “Federal sex crimes prosecutor found dead in the sand at the base of the Smithsonian’s Foucault pendulum.” (Yikes!)
Kathleen Teller-Stamis: “Someone takes out Boehner in his office, makes it look like over-tanning combined with lung cancer.”
Suzanne Libby: “An associate’s office at any law firm downtown – they’ve been snuffing out people’s souls for years.”
And my favorite, from the brilliant thriller writer Patrick Lee:
“The Supreme Court justices are stealing the Hope Diamond from the National Museum of Natural History. A janitor catches them. They tie him up, then decide 5 to 4 to kill him.”