The Val & Kit Mystery Series

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

How NOT to Get Away with Murder

As we finish up the fifth novel in The Val & Kit Mystery Series—PALM DESERT KILLING—we find ourselves toying with ideas for No. 6. And, believe us, ideas aren’t hard to come by. Then again, truth generally being stranger than fiction, most of what we garner from TV and newspapers just isn’t believable (even though it really happened).

We are both avid watchers of shows such as Dateline, 20/20, 48 Hours, and Forensic Files, where they take an in-depth look at heinous killings. But while we love such shows, we have not learned anything useful on how to get away with such crimes. We’ve gleaned much, however, on how NOT to get away with murder.

Here, then, are some tips that apparently aren’t as obvious as they should be:

First, avoid one of the most common mistakes. If you plan to bury your poor victim, don’t get caught on camera at Home Depot or Loew’s buying a shovel and plastic wrap.  However, if you insist on doing so, never look directly into the store surveillance camera and wave. Also, don’t wear a baseball cap emblazoned with your alma mater or favorite team; always pay in cash; and don’t keep the receipt in your wallet or tucked under the visor of your car. If you have to pay by check, don’t write a note on it or in your register that the purchases are “Stuff to get rid of Aunt Alice.”

Next, if you are going to poison someone, don’t spend hours on the Internet researching sites that tell you how to make, buy, or mix a deadly substance. Avoid any websites that offer the dosage required and the effects of offensive materials. And for heaven’s sake, don’t try it out on the cat first.

Don’t take out a hefty insurance policy on the victim the day before you do the deed.

If you are a third-party murderer, meaning someone else put you up to it (it wasn’t my idea, honest, Your Honor!), don’t use your cell phone to communicate to said first party. Don’t e-mail them or, worse, write a chatty letter.

Don’t underestimate the police. They are smart. And no matter how chummy you might feel with the officer who has hauled you in for a friendly little chat, don’t start offering your own theories on who might have done it.

If you insist on using a gun, get rid of the weapon; and this does not mean tossing it into a shallow body of water a mile from your house.

Don’t rent a storage unit to hide all your murderous paraphernalia. Eventually, the police will find it; they always do.

Have a really good alibi. But not too good. Don’t, for example, go to the mall, stand in view of the surveillance camera, and participate in a flash-mob dance, or belt out an Italian opera while waiting for your pancakes at IHOP.

Lastly, avoid joining a gang, especially one with a name like Git-R-Done or Fists of Fire. These might serve you well once you’re slammed up in the pokey, but they’re not gonna do you any good on the outside.

And the best advice we can offer? Please don’t murder anyone. But if you just can’t help yourself, then stay out of Val and Kit’s way. Especially in Palm Desert, California, the setting for our next book. It just isn’t safe.

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