When planning a murder mystery, one of the most important aspects is motivation. In today’s post, based on the book Murder one: A Writer’s Guide to Homicide by Mauro V. Corvasce and Joseph R. Paglino, the motivation is financial gain. This isn’t the same as an organized crime murder, but rather an individual killing for personal financial gain.
There are several motivations within the realm of business for your bad guy. I’ll call them sub-motivations. They include:
1. Greed: killing off the business partner means 100% of the profits are up for grabs.
2. Competition: get rid of the competition, and the job/money is secure.
3. Cover-up: antagonist stole from the company, but somebody knows about it. They can’t squeal if they’re dead.
4. Frame-up: antagonist stole from the company, but frames the partner and kills him. Now no one’s investigating the theft, and killer gets the dough.
Each of these makes a believable motivation for killing someone within the business realm. There are other scenarios that involve financial gain that aren’t set in the business world. The authors bring up a situation in which burglars are surprised by returning homeowners. The burglar kills the homeowners in an effort to get away. Sometimes this happens because the burglars are inexperienced (maybe teenagers?) and are afraid of getting caught. If they’re burglaring in their own neighborhood, they may be afraid of being recognized. Yet another scenario of killing for financial gain is covering up a criminal past. If a co-worker finds out, the ex-criminal may kill to keep the secret and the job.
These are all great motivators for committing murder. Over the next several posts, I want to dig deeper into each of these and discuss how law enforcement personnel go about solving these types of crimes. Stay tuned! There’s great stuff coming up.