The Columnist
  to the Independent page
  Careful What you Wish for
  Grotesque Gifts
  Minicab to Utopia
  Queen Escapes
  Post Holiday Tension
  Brief Tables
  Plumber on the Case
  Blunkett on Citizenship
  Rugby World Cup
  Unusual Jobs
  Playing a Bad Hand
  All Night Session
  Talking Politics
  Wardrobe Murder
  The Queen & I
Two Murder Tales
  How to be Wise






Today, I bring you two murder stories for our time. The first one is entitled:
smoking gun

Moira Tynan was a free-lance writer, who was convinced that she deserved to be published in Women's Story Magazine, because the stories she wrote were just the right length for that great publication and were all about women's problems. (Men are women's problems, that was her attitude.)

She sent them in under a pseudonym, Kathy Greenback, and they remained at Women's Story Magazine for about three months and then someone called Tess Ryder sent them back again, with a curt little note. Sometimes the note said that the story was too long, or too descriptive, or too conversational, or even too violent. But usually the note said that Molly Greenback's stories were too unlikely, and indeed once the note said that Molly Greenback would write better stories if she got out more and saw a bit more of life.

Moira Tynan grew to have a truly terrible hatred of this Tess Ryder who kept rejecting her stories. Tess Ryder was all that stood between her and publication. Tess Ryder stopped her being recognised. Therefore Tess Ryder had to go.

One day Moira Tynan turned up at Solar Publishing House, where Women's Story Magazine was one of the 230 magazines published, and asked to see Tess Ryder. She said her name was Kathy Greenback. When they rang up to Tess Ryder to ask if she wanted to see Kathy Greenback, Tess thought they said "Ally Greenburg", which was the name of a friend of hers, and said yes. So Moira Tynan, aka Kathy Greenback, went up to Tess Ryder's office and shot her, then walked out of the building

They never caught her. She had left no clue behind, only a pseudonym. So she was emboldened to write a story about a woman writer who is so embittered by constant rejection that she shoots dead the editor responsible, and sent it to another magazine called Female Fiction Monthly. The literary editor sent it back with a note saying that it was highly implausible and that Kathy Greenback should get out more and write about real things.

"She shouldn't have said that," thought Moira, packing her gun again.

MORAL: Women's problems are not all caused by men.

Ready for more mayhem? Here we go with our second story:
smoking gun

Desmond Cartier had spent fifteen years in the catering business, building up an enormously successful chain of tea-rooms. (He had been the only person to forecast that after the coffee craze had peaked, people would move back to tea and demand a genuine English tea experience.) Then he had sold the whole company for a lot of money, and bought a canal boat to get away from everything.

He wandered the length and breadth of England, enjoying the watery solitude, and relaxing by learning to do wood carving and turning. With the timber he picked up along the canal he made his own furniture. Having furnished his boat, he made some more tables and chairs, and whenever he stopped, he would put them on the canal bank to tempt people to buy them.

One summer day, near Devizes, he came out from his boat to find several walkers sitting round one of his tables.

"Tea for four, please," they said.

They had mistaken his furniture display for a canal cafe. Desmond smiled inwardly and sold them some tea and biscuits. But by that time some more people had sat down, wanting tea. One of them, unbeknownst to Desmond, was the food correspondent for a Sunday paper, who described his find the following Sunday under the headline: "A Canal Tea Experience To Treasure", and even gave the name of Desmond's boat. Desmond's boat became the mecca for tea hunters.

It became so bad that Desmond had to sell it, and buy a caravan to get away from everything, but not before making a day trip to London and murdering the man who had killed his canal dream. The police knew that the food critic had made many enemies through his criticism and investigated everyone who had suffered one of his bad reviews, but as they never thought to examine his good reviews, they never did find the culprit.

MORAL: It is a mistake to rule out ingratitude as a murder motive.

The Independent Wed May 1 03