Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Richard the Third Murder Mystery

My recent review of Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time reminded me that I had put together a short-short (550-word) comedy-mystery about the death of Richard the Third.

This is a homage to James Thurber's The Macbeth Murder Mystery which makes for a delightful read and which has better alliteration in its title. A copy of that short-story can be found here.

Without further introduction:

The Richard the Third Murder Mystery by Martin Hill Ortiz

    The band, Try Lobotomy, played "How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?" the heavy metal version. Maria, mystery enthusiast, no relation to the von Trapps, sat across from me her lips perched on the rim of a Pink Lady. After a petite gulp, she returned to the subject of detective fiction. Her haphazard manner of making connections left me groping for context.

    "Columbo did that," she said.

    "Huh? Who?"

    "Detective Columbo," she said. "He had the police dig up a concrete-filled foundation, not to find a body, but to lure the killer into disposing the body down its shaft. That's what I thought of when they found the remains of Richard the Third under a parking lot and that's when I knew who killed him."

    "Who killed Richard? Henry the Seventh or, rather, his men, on the battlefield of Bosworth. 'A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!'"

    "Henry the Seventh? A minor player? Shakespeare would hardly allow that."

    "Henry the Seventh was not a minor player."

    "Oh, really? Everybody hears about Henry the Eighth and Henry the Fifth. But who even knows whether they actually was a Henry the Seventh? He's like one of those Jason the Thirteenth sequels no one ever saw. Can you name a single thing Henry the Seventh did?"

    "He killed Richard the Third."

    "Not on your life!"

    I downed a swig of my Dewar's. Alright, in all honesty, it was a frozen Fuzzy Nipple and I had to sip it slowly because I get cold headaches. "Who do you think did it?" I asked, dreading the answer.

    "Hastings," she said.


    "Oh, yes. And Shakespeare was clever there, naming him after Poirot's companion. A true homage." She gave 'homage' the French cheese pronunciation.

    "Lord Hastings?" I said. "He was Richard's second victim. As I recall, Lovel and Ratcliff entered carrying his head."

    "So it might seem," she parried, "until you realize Lord Hastings was Lord Chamberlain."

    "That's right. He was the lord chamberlain."

    "So you noticed! And Stanley also took the name Lord Chamberlain proving that Hastings survived."

    "Are you saying Hastings and Stanley were the same person?"


    "But didn't they have a scene together?"

    "Yes. But so did Norman Bates and his mother."

    "Okay, then. What was Hasting's motive? Revenge for being murdered?"

    "You're not taking this seriously." She stirred her Pink Lady with her pinkie, then sucked her fingertip dry. "When Richard first refers to Hastings, do you remember what he says?"

    "No, I don't." No, I didn't.

    "He says, and I quote, 'Humbly complaining to her deity / Got my lord chamberlain his liberty.' What does that sound like?"

    I shrugged. "Shakespeare?"


    It did sound like rap. "So, you're saying, Richard the Third and Hastings were in some sort of hip-hop war?"


    Finally, I woke up. How could someone so painfully mangle the story of Richard the Third while being able to flawlessly quote the text? How? She was a Shakespeare scholar and she was toying with me. This was a sly riff, a marvelous muddling of drama and events. Her lips were pursed in a knowing smile as she slurped through her swizzle stick.

    The band began their cover version of "She's The One." I ordered another round.

The Richard the Third Murder Mystery is previously unpublished.

Richard the Third's bones.

Martin Hill Ortiz is the author of Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press.

Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press

Never Kill A Friend is available for purchase in hard cover format and as an ebook.
The story follows Shelley Krieg, an African-American detective for the Washington DC Metro PD as she tries to undo a wrong which sent an innocent teenager to prison.

Hard cover: Amazon US
Kindle: Amazon US
Hard cover: Amazon UK
Kindle: Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble 


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