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  • Writer's pictureVeronica Cline Barton

Veronica's #WritersDiary: Today's #Mystery Topic; The Case of the Poison Pen!

Poison Pen Letter

[ˈpoizn pen ˈledər]


  1. a letter, typically anonymous, that is libelous, abusive, or malicious.

Each month in 2022, I want to blog about topics and tropes that are associated with the #mystery genre. First on the agenda, the poison pen letter! These written assaults are often used in storylines, particularly in cozy mystery tales. I currently happen to be writing one where poison penned post cards are causing more than a bit of angst with the villagers of Maidenford and the residents of Cherrywood Hall. I've found they're an effective tool to move the nefarious deeds in a story along, and they certainly keep you guessing in a classic, whodunnit style. They can range from very general 'I saw what you did...' cryptic messages to very specific accusations--some of which can be toe-curling and oh so deadly!

First appearing in the nineteen-thirties, poison pen letters made their literary and screen debuts. One of my favorite tales featuring this trope is Agatha Christie's story, The Moving Finger. Several inhabitants who reside in the town of Lymstock are recipients of the accusatory letters, causing one of them to appear to commit suicide, writing 'I can't go on...'. As we soon find out however, all is not as it seems. Who is the perpetrator? And do they have murder on their mind?

In early examples where poison pen letters appear, they're usually typewritten or have cryptic messages made up from letters or words cut from newspapers or magazines to avoid having the sender's handwriting identified. As all astute mystery lovers know, however, no method is foolproof. There always seems to be a typewriter key that hits off balance or the cut pages found in the perpetrator's trash that bring the guilty party to justice.

In today's world however, we live in a world of emails, texts, tweets, tik-toks etc. Fake accounts, trolls and throwaway phones/IP addresses are alive and well. It's commonplace today for stinging notes, tweets, texts to be received anonymously. Has the poison pen gone high tech?

The good news is we have more stringent laws on hate mail these days and the FCC frowns upon wireless inter/intra state electronic transmission of damning accusations. A word to the not-so-wise, probably not a good thing to do. #JustSayin

Do you have favorite examples of stories or TV/films have used poison pen letters? Where do you think this trope will evolve in the future---could implanted chips or AI mechanisms deploy this tried & true contrivance to strike out at humans? On the paranormal mystery front--could psychics or mediums send vile messages via ESP or ghostly transmissions? I'd love to hear your thoughts (Pssst, no anonymous letters please)! It's Wednesday, time for #DearDiary:

Who's Ready for Some Clubhouse Mystery Fun?

One of the challenges I've accepted from my working sessions with Summer Watson last year was to branch out and explore new platforms to pursue and exchange ideas and discussions with other creatives.

My writing pal, Bibiana Krall and I have decided to do just that in 2022. We have a new room/club in the Clubhouse app called "Murders We Write'! I've been exploring the Clubhouse app--there are loads of discussion rooms on just about any topic you can fathom. It seems like a great audio platform--the good news is you can join on your phone from anywhere and don't have to worry about make-up, hairdos, or getting out of your PJs! (I'm still going to wear my crowns...) 😁👑

You can download the app from your Apple or Google play store. Right now, Bibiana and I are thinking we will host a 30-minute discussion on a mystery topic every other week. It's a live session--we're currently targeting Sunday afternoons for the meeting time. If you'd like to be a part of the discussion (#Writers and #Readers welcome---feel free to jump in, or just sit back and listen--no pressure), please let me or Bibiana know! We'll be sending out tweets and posts in the next few days with more info. Hope you will join us...dun-dun-dun...

A spring ball takes a deadly turn this week from the writers of Twitter...

Author Benedict Bown, Murder at the Spring Ball, Lord Edgington Investigates, Book 1, 5

A spring ball to celebrate retired detective Lord Edgington's 75th birthday is being planned, bringing Cranley Hall back to its former glory. The lord of the manor recruits his teenage grandson, Christopher, to be his right-hand man in planning the festivities, wrinkling the high brows of several family members who are baffled by his choice.

As the gala begins, the food and festivities are enjoyed by all. A champagne toast comes to a tragic end when Lord Edgington's daughter is poisoned. The former detective and his grandson are on the case, helping the police sort through the clues, which bring to light the not so elegant pasts of many of the family members and friends who attended the ball. When another grisly death occurs, no one is above suspicion. Will Christopher and his grandfather track down the killer in time to prevent another tragedy?

Author Brown weaves an engaging tale that will entertain lovers of a classic whodunnit. I can't wait to read the next adventure---a highly recommended read!

Next up in the #reading queue:

Winter Thoughts...

Spring passes and one remembers one's innocence. Summer passes and one remembers one's exuberance. Autumn passes and one remembers one's reverence. Winter passes and one remembers one's perseverance.” — Yoko Ono

We're not having the snowstorms folks in the northwest, south and northeast have endured this past week, but I am enjoying the cool temps here in SoCal. Winter is one of my favorite seasons--I love having a fire blazing in the mornings and dusting off my fav boots to wear! It's the perfect time to hunker down and write, read or enjoy your favorite shows. I love making soups this time of year too---nothing better than a hot bowl of a savory mix and some crusty bread to fill up on. Do you have some fav recipes?

Even though the holidays are over, you don't have to give up that sparkle. How about glamming up the front door with a cheerful wreath? The one in the picture is once again from the fabulous Elegant Designs by Lulu. I love the crowns, bling and baubles, a perfect way to brighten up a cold and gloomy day! #HappyWinter

Welcome to my world. Enjoy the rest of your #week and #weekend friends!

Crowns and Kisses,


P.S. A belated birthday dinner at the Ritz in Laguna--a good time had by all and look at that sunset! Thank you, Hubby! Gemma and Rikkhe approve 💖👑

28 views5 comments

댓글 5개

2022년 1월 12일

Great post, V! I love the idea of visiting a different topic or trope every week. The poison pen is a tried-and-true favorite. I'm so happy for you and Bibiana to have a new project together! Looking forward to learning more about it.

Tonight we're having one of my favorite soups, Taco Soup. It's easy and delicious, a great combo.

Happy belated birthday and thanks for more gorgeous photos, as always!


2022년 1월 12일

Hello Veronica! I recently read “The Moving Finger” and those types of messages truly are poisonous! Inspiring that you and Bibiana are trying new experiences. Will you be part of the metaverse someday? Thanks for a stimulating and gorgeous post!

Veronica Cline Barton
Veronica Cline Barton
2022년 1월 12일
답글 상대:

Thanks for stopping in, Jena--Bibiana and I are looking forward to our new venture on Clubhouse! As to the metaverse, that would be a 'no'....unless of course I can go to Cherrywood Hall! Never say never...dun-dun-dun...💖👑


2022년 1월 12일

Ooh poison pens! Love seeing these in books and film. My forecast is holograms that say creepy things and disappear. Like a Princess Leia thing without the buns and you don’t have to be a princess. Somehow I have not read that Agatha Christie Book yet. 👀

Sounds like Maidenford is a hotbed of mortal and venial sins…. looking forward to knowing more. ‘Murders We Write’ is going to be so much fun too! I love that you don’t have to do your hair to be on Clubhouse. 🙃☕️😎 Happy Wednesday and congrats to the authors on the TBR. Love reading this blog!

Veronica Cline Barton
Veronica Cline Barton
2022년 1월 12일
답글 상대:

Holograms--that would be innovative indeed! Can't wait for Murders We Write on Clubhouse--it's going to be deadly fun! Thanks for stopping in, Uberhappy! 💖👑

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