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  • Writer's pictureVeronica Cline Barton

Veronica's #WritersDiary: Today's #Mystery Topic: #Motives for Mur-dah Most Foul!

“Motives for murder are sometimes very trivial, Madame.”

“What are the most usual motives, Monsieur Poirot?”

“Most frequent—money. That is to say, gain in its various ramifications. Then there is revenge—and love, and fear, and pure hate, and beneficence—”

“Monsieur Poirot!”

“Oh, yes, Madame."

Dame Agatha Christie

For the March mystery topic post, I'm discussing motives for mur-dah most foul. What compels a person to become so incensed to commit the most heinous of crimes? For this discussion, I'm not going to include the topic of serial killers. These murderers are in a class by themselves and require a deep dive into psychological profiles to better determine their motives. I want to focus on more of the impromptu, sometimes planned, usually going to get caught motives occurring in mystery and cozy tales.

I think Monsieur Poirot summed it up quite nicely in the dialogue excerpt above. I would expand the esteemed detective's list to include all seven of the deadly sins aka capital vices:

  • Lust: Unbridled desire, sexual pleasure. Expands also to unbridled desire for money or power. Examples of movies with this motive: Passion takes a deadly turn in The Postman Always Rings Twice, Body Heat. Note to self, let the lust settle.

  • Gluttony: Overindulgence and overconsumption. An example I think of for this one is The Great Gatsby, and its portrayal of characters indulging in decadence to the extreme. In the end, money can't buy you love, but there's a good chance it will lead to mur-dah...

  • Greed: the inordinate desire to acquire and possess to excess. Loads of examples for this one, but I think this Wall Street movie line sums it up for those consumed with this vice..."Greed, for lack of a better word, is good" How did that work out for ya Mr. Gekko?

  • Sloth: absence of interest or willingness to exert yourself. How many tales have you read or watched where lazy, useless 'relatives' are just biding their time to collect a big inheritance or life insurance payout when the rich guy/gal kicks the bucket? Strange isn't it how gambling debts, blackmail, getting rid of a spouse, or a special project finally motivate these types to actually do something (although, not in a good way)? Columbo, Murder She Wrote, Castle and Law and Order made a killing (pardon the pun) with this deadly sin.

  • Wrath: Rage, anger, hatred and loss whip up a perfect, Death Wish recipe. Have to say though, the finest example of a mystery tale fueled by this sin IMHO is Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express. Revenge was never so deadly...even Poirot was taken aback by this one.

  • Envy: a sad or resentful covetousness toward the traits or possessions of someone else. Lifetime Movies has made this a signature trope for their movies, featuring cheerleaders, babysitters, and housewives who are a bit too desperate to take over your life. Let's not forget those beauty pageants, Miss Congeniality! Best to get those background checks. #JustSayin

  • Pride: believing one is superior, better or more important than others. A fav example of mine for this sin is the mystery movie, Laura. An arrogant mentor sabotages every chance of romance for his muse, threatened by anyone who comes between them. Will those Waldo Lydecker types ever learn?

I hope this month's mystery topic has those little gray cells churning. What are your fav motives you've read about or seen on the screen? I'll end with another of my fav Dame Agatha's quotes:

"Every murderer is probably someone's old friend..."

Dun-Dun-Dun...Noodle on that for a while, friends! It's Wednesday, time for #DearDiary:

Can't get enough of those motives!?

Cynthia Raleigh, Bibiana Krall, Amy Reade and moi will be discussing When Motives Go Rogue on the #MurdersWeWrite chat this week on the Clubhouse app. Join us Sunday, March 13th at 4 PM EDT (don't forget the time change, we're springing ahead!) for a deliciously, deadly time!

Bravery and perseverance against the Martians this week from the writers of Twitter...

Author Colin Powell, The Last Days of the Wake Men, The Martians Invade the Victorian Fenlands, 5

Author Powell once again weaves an intriguing, sci-fi tale as we head to the Victorian Fenlands where the Martians are determined to annihilate mankind. Red weed, poison gas and death rays abound. Will the Wake Men and scientists engineer a plan to defeat the Martians and their heinous fighting machines before time runs out?

Civilian scientists, Dr. Cheema and Miss Clairmont are abruptly recruited to assist in the dangerous, masterfully engineered, battle plan. Will their expertise in pathogens uncover the Martian's Achilles tentacle? As the fight of the brave ensues, it's all hands-on deck. Will their plans prevail?

This is the fourth book in the The Last Days series which carries on in the tradition of H.G. Wells's classic War of the Worlds. The plot, brave characters, settings, and desperate battles make for a page-turning read. I am a huge fan of this series, highly recommended!

Next up in the #reading queue:

My first mystery conference since 2019!

The countdown is on 'til I travel to Albuquerque for the Left Coast Crime's Southwest Sleuths conference. Panel discussions, meet and greets--I'm so ready to meet-up with other writers and readers and get out of dodge for a while. This is my first Left Coast Crime conference; it will be interesting to see how it compares to Bouchercon. We're also meeting up with friends who live in the ABQ area which I'm super excited about (more on this later). Nothing like a bit of mur-dah most foul to get your mind off the current events #YiYiYi.

If you're attending this conference, please let me know! You can check out the details here:

Welcome to my world. Have a peaceful week and weekend friends!

Crowns and Kisses,


P.S. Our last trip to ABQ was in October, 2017, when we attended their fabulous hot air balloon festival. We truly enjoyed our stay there--if you get the chance, I would definitely put it on the bucket list! Gemma and Rikkhe approve 💖👑

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Great post! I loved the discussion of the seven deadly sins and the movies you suggest to exemplify each one. Laura is one of my favorites, bur Murder on the Orient Express is unforgettable. Richard Widmark made a lot of enemies...

Have a fabulous trip to Albuquerque and Left Coast Crime!


Jena C. Henry
Jena C. Henry

Hello Veronica! What an excellent post- you present a thorough and fascinating peak at the motives of murder. Very well done and quite entertaining and helpful! Started back with Cain and Abel- envy and sloth? Taking note of this week‘s books. Albuquerque always reminds me of “Weird Al Yankovic”. My kids loved that…and Yes I am going to the Clubhouse this week!!



“Every murderer is probably someone’s old friend.” Yikes! I need to eat more Fruity Pebbles to read this post! 😳✨🌸☕️ The Seven Deadly Sins certainly give pause, and as I read this post I was thinking about all the books I’ve ever read that had a murder in it. Crime Noir especially seems to often have that immoral undertone of why something dirty is about to go down. Looking forward to the Clubhouse on Sunday! Congrats to the authors mentioned and on attending the conference in Albequerque. ❤️‍🔥Sounds terrific and a great way to meet likeminded writers. keep doing your thing and thank you for making my Wednesday awesome!

Veronica Cline Barton
Veronica Cline Barton

Thank you, UberHappy--motives lead to the 'who' in whodunnit! Can't wait for Sunday to discuss them in more detail with you all! 💖👑

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