Last night, I stayed up watching a Columbo show. It was one of his later ones, where Peter Faulk was gray, and looked like someone who should have been enjoying his senior years at home collecting his pension. But the murderers in these stories are not your rough and tumble, ruthless types. They're rich, and Hollywood types. I must admit they do come up with some interesting ways to try and get away with their murders. Their motives are simple, which in every case are usually the basic need to either hide a past or present bad deed, or the need to get rid of a spouse, or a blackmailer for obvious reasons. The list goes on.
But, as in many of the Columbo shows this one had an ending that became almost silly. The murderer is always quite happy to go quietly after Columbo has solved the murder.
A lot like in the Murder She Wrote shows where the murderer volunteers to tell what they did and how, even after Mrs. Fletcher has put it all together. In most cases, the murderer has a pretty good motive, and the person they killed deserved it, in my opinion. But always has Jessica shaking her head, because no murder is justified in her opinion.
In nearly all cases in these TV shows, the murdered victim is someone just about everyone (in the show) hates, and has a reasonable motive to kill them, thus, you get a bunch of likely suspects, and usually your innocent person is being taken to jail where Jessica knows that they are innocent and tries to prove the police wrong.
In real life, innocent people are usually victims of murder. Sure, there are a few baddies who need to be snuffed out, but what if that bad person is the killer (more likely they are), and if the reader sees that one or two innocent people are murdered, wouldn't they be more emotionally involved in the story and rooting for the heroine more if it looked like the bad guy might get away, after murdering her friends and acquaintances? Especially if Lainey herself is in danger? I tend to think so.
In the first Lainey Quilholt book in the series, Lainey becomes involved because the person murdered was a classmate, Arline, who no one likes. She is last seen arguing with her ex-boyfriend, and a couple of tough girls nearly start a fight during a party, but this is broken up. The town sheriff, John Weeks, sets his sights on the murdered girl's fiance' (AJ) because he was last seen having that argument in front of a bunch of on-lookers. This sets him up rather easily as a murder suspect, but his father is a powerful lawyer type and gets him out of jail on a technicality.
However, AJ did go to Arline's apartment looking for something that is incriminating (that past deed, I spoke of earlier). In his haste he has pretty much trashed the place. However, he has not found the incriminating pictures that Arline took of him passed out behind the wheel of Arline's car while coming back from a vacation. Lainey, being slightly more clever than most, does find these pictures, and more. She's gathering the clues like Easter eggs and not only solves this murder, but a past one involving a rather rough individual who used to go out with Arline's best friend, who supposedly drowned, and she's able to point to the fact this may have been more than accidental.
In the end she helps Sheriff Weeks find the killer in a reenactment. Sure, this is sometimes used in other murder mysteries, but I think it works because there's a twist in what really happened, the killer(s) are caught because they're stupid (as most criminals are), and although her friend is involved, the reason comes to light.
Here is a link to a Instafreebie it's a first chapter, so if you are even slightly curious about the mystery, you can check that out here.
And, of course should you feel the need to buy and read it, here's the link to Party to a Murder. I think it will keep your interest.
Here is a description from Amazon:
Lainey is a 17-year old small town girl - and she has no idea she's about to be involved in a grisly murder investigation.
When Arline Rochell is found brutally murdered one morning, Lainey's suspicions arise. Why does this girl seem to be hated by everyone? While digging for clues, she discovers that blackmail could have been the motive. While trying to understand her friends' hatred for the murdered student, she finds herself in the middle of a second murder cover-up.
Clues lead to a number of other people, including Lainey's friend Wendy... and the more she wants to prove her innocence, the more it looks as if her friend has done the deed. Along with Sheriff Weeks' help, Lainey delves into who had most to gain by killing Arline. But can they find the killer before it's too late?