Mystery Holiday Crime

“Wonderful work today, Detective.” The chief of police mumbled around what was quite possibly the thickest cigar in existence. It was a hand rolled monstrosity that gave off noxious clouds of smoke whenever the man spoke. He was never without a box of them tucked away somewhere in his clothes. The Detective waved away the creeping smoke and tried to smile, “Thank you, sir.”

“That killer never saw you coming, did he?” The chief continued with a chuckle, “I don’t suppose you’d like a raise, would you?”

“No thank you.” The Detective shook their head, “I’m just happy to help.”

“Right. The force needs more hardworking men like you-”

People like me, sir.” The Detective corrected.

“But you were just...” The chief paused and then shrugged, “Fine, hardworking people like you. Without your attention to detail, we’d have never caught that guy.” 

“Again, I’m just glad to be of service.” The Detective was never one for excessive compliments, and left the scene of the arrest before the chief could continue with a cheery, “See you tomorrow, sir!” 

The chief of police grunted, waved, and turned back to his work. 

The case had been simple. A string of murders around the city, each victim found murdered with the decorations on their Christmas trees. The killer would leave a message at each site. The first was made of the victim’s candles, lined up to make a smiley face. The second was a Christmas postcard.

Wish you were here. Season’s greetings from the Blue Room

The snowman on the postcard was scribbled on in red crayon.

The third message was the victim’s own mail cut into snowflakes and hung from the ceiling. 

It’s fun to strike in a snowstorm. No one is out to see you.

The rest of the messages were similarly mail themed, leading the Detective to discover that all eight victims had been on the same postal route. They had also discovered that the victims reported a new postal worker who had damaged their mail. The complaints had come in fast from these people, and the postal worker was quickly fired. There was a motive, and there was evidence. The final piece of the puzzle fell into place when the postal worker had been caught breaking into the seventh victim’s apartment, cleaning the vase that had been used in the murder. The vase was still wrapped, a note on it addressing it to the victim as a present from a friend. Confirmed as the serial killer, the postal worker was promptly arrested, and the murders stopped. The Detective was congratulated on dropping hints that they had found fingerprints in the seventh victim’s house when around the postal worker, leading to the discovery and arrest of the serial killer. It had been easy. Almost too easy, in fact. The Detective had worked enough cases to realize that killers were rarely as careless as this, and that things didn’t line up as clearly. However, the chief wanted answers, and the Detective had been there to provide them. The evidence was undeniably mail themed, and the postal worker had not only aroused but confirmed suspicions. The case was as good as closed. Something was still bothering them, however. The messages left behind were so familiar to the Detective. It was almost like the messages had a double meaning pointing to someone else. Someone that the Detective never wanted to see again. They shook their head, knowing that it couldn't be her. The case was done, and the killer had been stopped.

Then the Detective got shot.

Perhaps they had subconsciously baited the gunman by walking down backstreets and dark alleys instead of taking the subway home. They dropped like a stone, still alive but wishing the gunman had enough mercy to put them out of their misery. They hated the idea of bleeding to death in an alleyway. Someone jumped down from a fire escape.


“Of course it’s you.” The Detective rolled their eyes, “What do you want?” 

Jo a femme fatale in the purest form. She was everything the movies tried to emulate, and she outshone everyone in Hollywood. Of course, she was also known as the Queen of Crime to every cop within a seventy mile radius. None knew her true name, or what she looked like. None except, of course, the Detective.

“What do I want? To talk of course! Did you like my little game?”

The Detective sighed. Of course Jo had been the one behind the scenes on yet another killing spree. 

“So we arrested an innocent?”

“Oh, he wasn’t innocent.” Jo knelt down in front of the Detective and smiled at him from under the wide brim of her red hat.

“Actually, he was the one to commit the murders. It just took some… convincing.” She held out a photo for the Detective to look at, “He’s got some cute kids.”

“If you hurt them I’ll-”

“You’ll what?” Jo stood up and put one of her high heels above the bullet wound, “I’d hate to kill you after going through all that trouble to pin you down without putting you at risk.”

“You shot me!” 

The world was starting to blur around the Detective, but they held on as best as possible.

“You’re not going to die.” Jo waved her hand dismissively, “Don’t worry about the kids. I sent them home to their mom with all their limbs still attached.”

“You’re a psychopath.”

Jo shrugged, “I’m just making a living, darling.”

“Don’t call me darling.” The Detective spat.

“Is this one of your masculine days? Would you prefer handsome?” Jo raised an eyebrow at the trench coat, “Or are you somewhere in between? Hm, I’ll have to think of a pet name for that.”

“Jo, I want the details.” 

She checked her watch, “The ambulance won’t get here for another five minutes, so I suppose I could tell you. Not like you have any evidence against me.”

The Detective slowly reached for their tape recorder. It was old fashioned, but it hadn’t failed them yet. Jo clucked her tongue and snatched it from their pocket, “Ah-ah-ah! Really, sweetest, get a cell phone. They’re much more reliable than this old thing.” She crushed it under her heel and started pacing, “Now let’s see. First I should say that I had some incriminating evidence on the mark. Getting his kids was just to make sure he held up his end of the bargain. I left hints about my involvement, of course. The blue room was a reference to the townhouse, remember? We painted the walls blue in the third bedroom and made it a library. I suppose your interpretation did lead you to the killer though, so kudos on that. What else… oh! The postcard was the same one you sent me when we first started dating. You wrote on it in invisible ink from a stupid pen. If you’d had a blacklight you would’ve known it was me.”

“Sorry I didn’t think of that.” The Detective muttered. The blood loss was getting to them, and they started to worry that the last thing they would hear would be Jo’s voice declaring her victory.

“You caught one piece of the puzzle, but you lost the other.” Jo leaned in, “Next time we play, I won’t be as lenient.” 

A wailing sound was getting louder. Were those sirens? The Detective couldn’t tell. Jo picked up the bullet casing and rested a gloved hand on the Detective’s cheek.

“Happy Holidays, my love. We’ll correspond again soon.” 

The Detective woke up in the hospital a few days later. On their chest was a letter addressed to them.

Season’s greetings from the victor. You’ve lost round one. Await instructions on how to proceed.

The Detective tore the letter in half and threw the pieces across the room.

December 16, 2020 18:49

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Mustang Patty
16:34 Dec 21, 2020

Hi, Kathleen, A very interesting storyline. I liked it a lot. There was a great more deal of 'telling,' rather than 'showing,' and that is one of the things we all need to work on. Thank you for sharing, ~MP~


Kathleen M.
18:40 Jan 15, 2021

Hello Mustang Patty, Thank you for reading my story and for your kind words! I tend to struggle with writing anything with a mystery in it, so I'm glad you liked it. Thank you for the constructive criticism as well. I'm always looking for ways to improve my writing and I'll be looking into some lessons on how to show rather than tell in my stories.


Mustang Patty
11:44 Jan 16, 2021

You're welcome - there are several books on showing and not telling - also, there's a website called, 'Writerswrite.co.za and they have some free articles on the topic (I'm not sure I have the website correct - but you can google them under 'writers write' ~MP~


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Mustang Patty
11:44 Jan 16, 2021

You're welcome - there are several books on showing and not telling - also, there's a website called, 'Writerswrite.co.za and they have some free articles on the topic (I'm not sure I have the website correct - but you can google them under 'writers write' ~MP~


Show 0 replies
Mustang Patty
11:44 Jan 16, 2021

You're welcome - there are several books on showing and not telling - also, there's a website called, 'Writerswrite.co.za and they have some free articles on the topic (I'm not sure I have the website correct - but you can google them under 'writers write' ~MP~


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