KN, p. 154 “Murder at the Conference”


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Kerrian’s Notebook has been around for a couple of years and because it’s mostly about law enforcement and crime, Sheila and I got invited to a mystery writers’ convention. We had no idea what to expect, but we were promised a good time.


Lots of professionals go to conferences every year. Even cops. Why do we go?


1) to catch up on the latest investigative gadgets available.

2) to debate the pros and cons of emerging trends that need addressing.

3) to network.


In between the sessions, we rub elbows with colleagues we haven’t seen for a while, meet new people who have done interesting things in their departments, and share our most outrageous cases with a few pals at the bar.


We knew the mystery writers wouldn’t be dull and boring, but what could they possibly talk about for four whole days?

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Murder, that’s what. The who, what, where, why, and how of murder(s) on the printed page.


A few of the writers found out that I was a cop and bought us drinks and dinners – ok lots of drinks – while we chatted about crime, the problems with the CSI Effect, and the smartest criminals we had ever met. Best of all were the brainstorming sessions. They proposed scenarios for future books and I either shot them down because of the realities of available manpower and equipment or told them about similar cases where their ideas copied actual situations.


Just for fun, think of the possibilities at the conference itself. Soooo many chances to do someone in. Consider…


Scenario 1:

Your roommate snores like a buzz saw on steroids, so you are driven to:


Suffocate/strangle her in the hotel room and then distract the cops from you and your sleep deprived motive by stealing her cell phone, laptop, and wallet. You have been in the bar talking with colleagues at the general time of death in order to establish your alibi. You get sloshed enough to establish that you didn’t notice the non-breathing when you returned to the room. You ‘discover’ that she is dead in the morning when she doesn’t get up for breakfast. The hotel switches rooms for you while the investigation continues and you can finally get some sleep.


If for some reason, you can’t dispose of the electronics right away, at least turn them off and check out the hallway swap table for a temporary stashing spot. Doesn’t that black table skirt just beg to be used as a hiding place?


Scenario 2:

Your agent schedules a meeting to tell you that the royalty checks are delayed again, the publisher may not renew, but you can’t write for anyone else for a year AND everyone else except you will still get a piece of your hard earned pie. Since you have a binding contract with the agent for another five years, you go bonkers and:


Inject a poison into her neck in the elevator or put poison in her drinks at lunch. Neither scenario requires disposal of the body because you just walk away from the scene. Premeditation might come into play if you’re caught, since you probably have to bring the poison with you to the conference. Disposal of the syringe or eyedropper requires stealth, and a public garbage can.


Note the colors of the liquids and the types. All are opaque. The glass reflects the images nearby, making it even harder to see what’s really inside. If the intended target sticks to water or white wine, you’ll need to use a different method.

Left to right: Extra stout, Cabernet Sauvignon, alcoholic mocha cappuccino, draught beer. All have strong flavors; the better to hide the poison. Brand names missing to avoid being sued.



Scenario 3:

The Keystone family reunion is being held in the same hotel as the mystery conference. Uncle Harry has cut his children out of the will. The kids see that the banquet for the writers is next door to the family banquet room. They enlist the help of a hungry writer for a hefty fee. The writer sets up the how and where, the kids do the deed and the writer finally has a paycheck in his pocket without having to share a dime.


Gotta say, writers’ conferences are a blast. 😉




Photos 1, 3 & 4 taken by Patti Phillips.




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14 thoughts on “KN, p. 154 “Murder at the Conference””

  1. LOL just love all these. Actually in the anthology I was part of called In A Word: Murder, the crimes had to be set in a publishing context and it could be books, music, magazine, blogging and so forth – as long as the crime was related to murder. Mine (both stories) were set in music publishing and Hollywood book publishing – my music background has to come out somewhere – and one of the others was written by Margot Kinberg, her publisher (in the story) was not going to renew her contract, so the scene was set for murder. Such fab opportunities Patti, so I can see that your scenarios would be just as delicious. Getting away with it – well now…what are the chances of that? Love reading your blog. Thanks for all the insider info. Appreciated. xx

    1. Oh, Jane, I love the settings in your stories! I’ll look for the anthology.
      I’m delighted that you continue to enjoy Kerrian’s Notebook! We do have fun, don’t we? 🙂

      1. We do have fun and I enjoy your notebook immensely. Anything crime-related and murder-related gets me going. I do hope you enjoy In A Word: Murder (if you get it) – some award-winning authors contributed and it is a fab read. Many of my stories are based on my experiences in the music business, as you might imagine, it is a fertile ground for jealousy and mischief. Conferences were often places people mingled and found their idols and those they looked up to, were not always what they seemed to be…means, opportunity and motive abound. But let’s face it, anywhere is good for the deed, provided some thought has gone into it all. It’s the spur of the moment murders which might well come unstuck quickly. On the University Forensic Anthropology course I’ve been doing, Identifying the Dead, the victim had lain undiscovered for 5 years in a shallow grave – a dismembered skeleton without any form of ID whom I had to try and put a face to. Her killer thought he’d got away with murder, and may well have, had a dog not found her ulna and this sparked off the investigation. I really enjoyed finding cause of death and weapon used, then using all the biological identifiers which eventually led to the investigation of possible missing persons in the region. Giving her a face which was used on Missing Persons posters lead to her identification in the end, and a prosecution. It was such a fab experience and it made me realise that, in the end, however long after the event (crime) someone somewhere would be convicted. Now we have DNA and other wonderful technologies at the disposal of the Police it is going to be harder and harder to get away with murder, and I think, harder and harder for us to write about it in the same way we have been over the years – especially in the Golden Age Detective genre. Mind boggling array of agencies and technology involved in solving crimes now. The course was well worth it, if only to find out who does what and why and how. Enjoy your page so much, thanks Patti.

        1. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment! Great information and hopefully, the readers will have a chance to look for the book, “A Word: Murder.” The Forensic Anthropology Course sounds like a great one!

  2. This is wonderful. I thought I was the only one coming up with murderous conniving scenarios. LOL.
    It was great to meet you and pick your nose. I’m so glad you came to Bouchercon!

    1. Thanks, Linda! Kerrian looks for bodies everywhere, even at conferences, even at outrageously funny lunches. I’m still laughing and thanks for being a part of that. Great to put an actual face to the FB photo! 😀

  3. Patti,
    I love your post about what goes on at mystery conferences. We must talk more at the next conference so I can probe your imagination and criminal mind. Left Coast Crime? Malice Domestic? Shall I warn them?

    1. Thanks, Nancy, but please don’t warn anyone. The element of surprise means that Kerrian will get some GREAT stories to put in the Notebook. lolol

    1. Thanks, Mary. 🙂

      Hmmm…arsenic sprinkled on the topping so it can be done at the table… I like your thinking, Mary! LOL

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