Author Topic: Adult Mystery - The Dead End (Updated based on feedback)  (Read 383 times)

Offline nnewbie2

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Adult Mystery - The Dead End (Updated based on feedback)
« on: January 14, 2020, 08:28:36 AM »
RIA is a single mother living in Houston. Her relationship with her ten years old son, ISHAAN is strained after his recent suspension from school for a fight that landed his classmate in a hospital. Preoccupied with her son’s troubles, Ria is caught off guard when a deadly hurricane is forecast to make landfall and scrambles at the last minute to stock up on nonperishable food items.

Her married friend, SEEMA, invites Ria to ride out the storm at her place.

The last thing Ria needs is another encounter with Seema’s sleazy husband, VIPUL. But when Ria’s apartment is listed under mandatory evacuation, she has no choice but to accept her offer.
Seema’s house is three times the size of Ria’s dingy studio apartment. Ria tries to stay out of Vipul’s orbit because he had in the past harassed Ria with lewd text messages. Intimately familiar with the struggles of being a single mom, Ria didn’t want Seema to join the divorcee club and so she never told Seema about Vipul’s misdeeds.

Seema has another couple taking refuge at her place – Her brother-in-law, a struggling writer, NEAL and his demure wife, LISA.

An outsider, Ria can only sense the hazy outlines of the family dynamics, but she is filled with unease. Seema is nervous whenever Vipul is around their daughter. Neal and Lisa appear to be a picture-perfect happy couple, but Ria is shocked by the discreet circular bruise on Lisa’s waist and suspects their veneer of affection hides a dark secret.

Ria keeps a wary eye on Ishaan to keep him out of trouble, nitpicking his every move when he is playing with Seema’s daughter. Neal keeps the children entertained and when Ria sees Ishaan’s relaxed and playful demeanor around Neal, she wonders if his mishaps at school stem from a lack of male role models. She vows to work on her relationship with her son.

When everyone turns in for the night, Vipul sneaks into Ria’s room and makes a pass at her. Determined to stand up for herself this time, Ria slaps him. Seema walks in, but instead of believing Ria, she accuses her of sabotaging her marriage.

Utterly humiliated, Ria wants to leave immediately, but the streets are submerged in water. For her son’s sake, she must wait till the morning for the water to recede.
In the middle of the night, on her way to the bathroom, Ria discovers Vipul dead in the study, his throat slit. The windows are open, and his gold chain is missing suggesting burglary, but his laptop is not stolen and there are no struggle wounds on his hands.

All emergency personnel are dispatched to rescue folks trapped in the floods. The storm has rendered the neighborhood inaccessible, and Ria is stuck in the house. Since everyone has a motive to kill Vipul, Ria cannot trust anyone. Vipul was a terrible husband but if wives started killing their husbands for patriarchal attitudes, half of India’s male population would be wiped out. Neal’s interactions with Vipul had an undercurrent of resentment fueled by their financial disparities, but in the wake of his death, the family unites and closes rank against Ria. The only person who does not regard Ria with suspicion is Lisa.

When a blood covered knife Ria had used previously to make salad is found in the trash, Ria realizes she has gone from main witness to prime suspect. Someone used her presence as an opportunity to commit a crime and she has till daybreak to find the real murderer.

Fight or flight. Ria is timid, so she skews towards the second option and looks for a way out. Neal’s SUV is parked behind her car blocking the way, so she steals the keys. But Ria stops after seeing the waves of water lapping on the foot of the driveway. Leaving now would only add her and Ishaan’s name to the list of Hurricane casualties.

To give her the best chances of survival, Ria looks for a weapon to protect herself and her son. When she comes across an old photograph of Seema and Neal hidden in Seema’s bedroom, she suspects them of having an affair and thinks of warning Lisa but reconsiders it.

When Ria goes to the bathroom adjoining the study, she spots a stain of a blood on the knob of the door which opens into the study. She realizes that the killer had not escaped through the open window, but instead waited in the bathroom. This reinforces her belief that it wasn’t an outsider who committed the murder. Ria is relieved that the DNA holds the keys to her freedom. She decides to come back later with her phone and take a picture.

The thunderstorm refuses to abate, and water starts gushing into the living room. Everyone races to the second floor. Neal tries to find access to the roof from the attic. He warns that if the water levels keep rising, the police won’t find just one body in the morning.

Ria’s stomach sinks as she realizes that if the bathroom is flooded, the last evidence of her innocence will be wiped out. She scrambles to the bathroom but is shocked to find that someone has wiped out the blood. Panicking, she wonders if Vipul’s last minutes on earth hold a clue to his death.

Ria wades through knee deep water in the study. She discovers a copy of a medical form on his laptop and figures out who killed him.

Vipul had downloaded a laboratory service form for DNA matching. Seema walks in on Ria leading to a confrontation. Seema confesses that she had an affair and once she realized Vipul suspected their daughter wasn’t his, she tried to stage Vipul’s murder as a burglary gone wrong.

Ria assumes that Neal is the father of Seema’s daughter, but he turns out to be innocent. Ria is shocked when Lisa appears with an arm around Ishaan’s neck and a gun pointed at Ria. She was Seema’s real accomplice in the murder. The bruise Ria had observed was an IVF mark. Lisa and Neal were trying to start a family and they needed money for fertility treatments. Seema had promised her a share of the insurance payout from Vipul’s death. But Neal was unaware of this and he is stunned into silence by this turn of events.
Seema offers Ria a way out – All she must do is going along with their lie.

Ria is almost tempted to take the easy way out, but when she sees Ishaan, she realizes that Ishaan doesn’t need a male role model, she herself needs to be a good example for her son.
She refuses to take part in Seema and Lisa’s plan and ends up getting shot and killed.
In the epilogue, Neal turns in Lisa and Seema to the authorities and adopts both Vipul’s daughter and Ria’s son.

« Last Edit: February 24, 2020, 01:06:20 PM by nnewbie2 »

Offline tb.tallbird

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Re: Adult Mystery - The Dead End
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2020, 05:11:57 AM »
A few hours before a deadly hurricane is forecast to hit Texas, single mother and chronic procrastinator, Ria scrambles at the last minute to stock up on nonperishable food items.

She gets a call from her married friend, Seema inviting her to ride out the storm at her place.

The last thing Ria wants is another encounter with Seema’s sleazy husband, Vipul. But when Ria’s apartment is listed under mandatory evacuation, she has no choice but to accept her offer.

Ria and her son go to Seema’s house which is three times the size of their dingy studio apartment. Ria avoids Vipul who had in the past harassed Ria with lewd text messages. Being conflict averse, Ria never told Seema or confronted Vipul and she regrets this.

Seema has another couple taking refuge at her place – Her charming brother-in-law and his demure wife.

While waters rise treacherously outside, Seema’s brother-in-law suggests driving to a hotel in a safer area, but Vipul flat out refuses to leave. He arrogantly claims that the steep incline of the driveway ensures that theirs will be the only house that won’t get flooded.

An interloper, Ria can only sense the hazy outlines of the family dynamics, but she is filled with unease. Seema is jumpy whenever Vipul is near their daughter. Seema’s brother-in-law and sister-in-law appear to be a picture-perfect happy couple, but Ria does not know what to make of the small round bruise on the sister-in-law’s waist.

When everyone turns in for the night, Vipul sneaks into Ria’s room and makes a pass at her. Determined to stand up for herself this time, Ria ends up slapping him. Seema walks in and instead of believing her, she accuses Ria of sabotaging her marriage.

Utterly humiliated, Ria wants to leave the house, but the streets outside are flooded making driving risky. For her son’s sake, she has no option but to wait till the morning when the waters recede.

In the middle of the night, Ria discovers Vipul in the study with a deep gash in his throat. The windows are open, and his gold chain is missing suggesting burglary, but his laptop is not taken and there are no struggle wounds on his hands.

Police are busy rescuing folks trapped in the floods. Networks are jammed, and everyone is stuck in the house for the night. The family closes rank against Ria, Seema in particular is antagonistic towards her. When a blood covered knife Ria had used previously to make salad is found in the trash, Ria realizes she has gone from main witness to prime suspect. She has till daybreak to find the real murderer.

Ria has two options- Fight or flight. Ria is inherently passive, so flight is her best option. Vipul’s brother’s SUV is parked behind her car blocking her way out, so she steals the keys. When she discovers an old photograph of Seema and Vipul’s brother, she suspects them of having an affair. She thinks of warning the brother’s wife that she might also be in danger but reconsiders it.

When Ria goes to the bathroom adjoining the study, she spots a stain of a blood on the knob of the door which opens into the study. She realizes that the killer had not escaped through the open window, but instead waited in the bathroom. Ria is relieved that in the DNA from the blood lies the keys to her freedom, if only she can survive the night.

The squall worsens and water gushes into the house. Everyone races to the second floor. Vipul’s brother tries to find access to the roof from the attic. He warns the others that if the water levels keep rising inside the house, the police won’t find just one body in the morning.

Ria’s stomach sinks as she realizes that if the bathroom is flooded, the evidence of her innocence will be wiped out. She hopes that Vipul’s last minutes on earth will have a clue to his death. Ria wades through knee deep water in the study. She tries to log into his laptop but cannot guess the password. She thinks about his arrogance, his over confidence and figures out the password is set to welcome. She finds a lab document and realizes who is the killer.
Vipul had contacted a laboratory service for DNA matching. He suspected his daughter wasn’t his.

There is a showdown in which Ria confronts Seema with the truth. Ria also assumes that Vipul’s younger brother is the father.

But Vipul’s younger brother is innocent. Seema had an affair with her colleague. Her sister-in-law points a gun at Ria. She helped her to eliminate Vipul. The bruise Ria had observed was an IVF mark. They needed money for treatments and Seema promised a payoff.

Seema and her sister-in-law offer Ria a way out – All she must do is lie and say a burglar got Vipul.

Ria knows it’s the easy way out, but she wants to do the right thing and be honest for the sake of her son. She refuses and ends up getting dead.

In the epilogue, we see that Vipul’s brother has adopted both Vipul’s daughter and Ria’s son.







The blue might read better if it reads, "ends up being killed."

Another thing, I would give the brother in law and his wife a name. It was difficult to separate Vipul and Vipul's brother.

For technical, I think with a synopsis that names need to be all caps.

Others might have more to add, but I hope this helps. Anyway, I wanted to let you know that I especially was intrigued with the time frame the MC has to prove her innocence. It created a sense of urgency.
Life is like a book. Some chapters are sad, some happy, some exciting. But if you never turn the page... you will never know what the next chapter holds.

Offline nnewbie2

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Re: Adult Mystery - The Dead End
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2020, 06:19:10 PM »
Thank you so much for providing your feedback! I was on the fence about naming characters, but I agree it might be harder to track the story otherwise.

If you have something you'd like me to look at, let me know.

Offline MichelleG

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Re: Adult Mystery - The Dead End
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2020, 10:34:02 AM »

Yes, the names need to be in caps the first time they are used.  Use the brother and his wife’s names - it’s only 2 names and she is very important in the synopsis.


In the middle of the night, Ria discovers Vipul in the study with a deep gash in his throat.

Tell the reader why she goes into the study - to find something to read, a moment by herself, to sleep? And that confused me, not sure it’s an issue for the synopsis, but even if she’s being accused of sabotaging their marriage and everyone is giving her stink eyes, clearly Vipul is not among them (him being dead in the study) why would she wonder off by herself when she could find herself alone with the man who is harassing her and just got caught alone with her by his wife? He would be the last person I’d want to run into, better off in someone else’s sight line.



Ria has two options- Fight or flight. Ria is inherently passive, so flight is her best option. Vipul’s brother’s SUV is parked behind her car blocking her way out, so she steals the keys. When she discovers an old photograph of Seema and Vipul’s brother, she suspects them of having an affair. She thinks of warning the brother’s wife that she might also be in danger but reconsiders it.

I don’t get this. First - what about the picture makes her think they are having an affair?  It’s not unheard of for in-laws to be in pictures together. You need some detail here to explain why she’s suspicious.  Secondly, what happened to ‘flight’?  Seemed like a valid plan to me, she’s gotten the keys, why is she still here running across pictures? And if she now thinks the brother might have something to do with the murder, even if she doesn’t tell/warn his wife, isn’t that even more of a reason to ‘flight’?
There is a big disconnect here.


She realizes that the killer had not escaped through the open window, but instead waited in the bathroom. Ria is relieved that in the DNA from the blood lies the keys to her freedom, if only she can survive the night.

Okay so she goes back into the study and goes through his computer looking for clues? Why isn’t she trying to preserve the spot of blood?  Take a pic of it’s location and preserve it in a tissue or something. You said she thinks this is the key to her freedom, wouldn’t  her main concern be the spot of blood is going to wash away?

Side question- how does she come to the guess that ‘welcome’ is his password from the description of the man you gave us? Hopefully, that makes more sense in the novel.

She refuses and ends up getting dead. - you can come up with a better line than that.


The epilogue makes no sense - if Seema and the sister-in-law killed Ria  and got away with two murders, isn’t Seema raising her own child? Why was the daughter adopted by the brother-in-law?  And wouldn’t BOTH the brother and sister-in-law adopt Ria’s son?

I know you put this here for us to critique the writing, but I have a major problem with the story as presented here (granted this could be answered in the novel) - RIA - how does this woman go from not informing her friend about her husband’s behavior to a woman who confronts/accuses the same friend in regard to her husband’s murder? And she does this all while being trapped in a house with the friend! And if Ria is correct Seema knows she killed her husband and is actively framing Ria with the knife, a smart person keeps the evidence she found to herself until she can tell the police the name of the lab so they can get the report and hands over the blood drop she preserved. A stupid person like Ria deserves to die.

Don’t get me wrong - I love a story where the bad guys win.

And this is a great turn of events - the woman who wants a child but is having difficulty getting pregnant is involved in two murders and as a prize gets the victim’s child.

NNEWBIE2 - you are one warped cookie - KEEP IT UP! 



"You look at these scattered houses, and you are impressed by their beauty. I look at them, and the only thought which comes to me is a feeling of isolation and the impunity with which crime may be committed there." - Sherlock Homes, The Copper Beeches - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Offline nnewbie2

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Re: Adult Mystery - The Dead End
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2020, 02:08:40 PM »
Hi there,

'A stupid person like Ria deserves to die.' --This made me LOL

Thank you so much for your detailed feedback!

The idea was that in the epilogue, the brother-in-law would turn in his wife and Seema.

Ria's character arc was meant to go from being meek and passive to not being afraid of confrontation. Clearly that is not coming across in the synopsis. :)

She peeks into the study while she is going to check on her car.

The spot of blood preservation point seems like a plot hole I'll need 2 fix.

Again, thanks a lot! Please let me know if you would like me to critique anything in return.





Offline MichelleG

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Re: Adult Mystery - The Dead End
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2020, 09:15:53 PM »
Okay -  now I have other questions

I was under the impression this is in Ria’s POV. Am I correct? If so she, and therefore we, can’t know what happens after she is dead. 

And if he turns them in you NEED to say so - I mean that’s a BIGGIE

If the story isn’t from her POV - so many thought and ideas
"You look at these scattered houses, and you are impressed by their beauty. I look at them, and the only thought which comes to me is a feeling of isolation and the impunity with which crime may be committed there." - Sherlock Homes, The Copper Beeches - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Offline B_Johnson3

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Re: Adult Mystery - The Dead End
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2020, 10:27:24 PM »
Hi NNewbie2,

I agree with some of the points of MichelleG, most specifically the question about why she doesn't just leave if she has the keys she needs. Ria seems to be running down quite a few dead ends and leads, but the transitions seem very jerky in the synopsis. I think the thing I'd like hear more of is the why. Rather than the details of how she gets the keys to the car and finds the picture, WHY doesn't she just leave? Why doesn't she preserve the blood? Why doesn't she just lock herself in the bathroom? WHY does she wade back into the study while everyone else is trying to escape (unnoticed by the others?) and look for more evidence? I realize it's a mystery, but I spent a lot of the synopsis wondering why Ria was doing what she was doing, rather than focusing on the mystery. Maybe consider omitting a few details / minor story beats in favor of elaborating on the main ones.

Offline nnewbie2

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Re: Adult Mystery - The Dead End
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2020, 11:58:22 AM »
Thank you so much for your feedback. Updated the synopsis based on your comments.

Offline MichelleG

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Re: Adult Mystery - The Dead End (Updated based on feedback)
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2020, 08:21:43 AM »
Didn’t realized you had replaced the original synopsis. You answered some of the questions I had, but now I have more. I hope you don’t mind me asking.

The suspension from school doesn’t come up again so why mention it? You can tell us while she is observing the children and Neal - maybe he needs a male role model.

I’m making an assumption here - on the prior synopsis - if I am not mistaken - the photo was in the study, but now it is in the bedroom - does that mean your novel is still in the ‘fluid’ stage (being written and ironed out). If so I have some ideas if you want to pm me.  Back to my thoughts -

When Ria is caught with him in the bedroom and Seema doesn’t believe she is the innocent party here, why doesn’t she show Seema the texts now?

How does she know Lisa doesn’t regard her with suspicion? That seems like an internal thought? Are the other people - Neal, Seema, the kids - accusing her and Lisa isn’t?

And I’m a bit confused about everyone being a suspect so she can’t trust them. At this point in the story we have a dead Vipul and someone who killed him for reasons known to them, but they have no reason to kill Ria - not until she starts snooping around.

Unite and close ranks against Ria - keep things in order - at this point in the synopsis they haven’t found the knife.

Clearly you have never killed anybody and staged it as a burglary - not suggesting you should go out and do that so you can ‘write what you know’ as the saying goes. Who throws the bloody knife in the trash???  If you brought it with you, you take it with you or leave it in the body. If it is staged by an insider you try to clean it and put it back or hide it - not in the trash. And if it was an attempt to frame Ria - for some reason - then you hide it among her stuff or in the room she’s staying in (personally if I were framing her I would hide it in her car). As I said so many thoughts here.

Can you put the Seema confesses affair and the father not being Neal together. The Neal part seems odd as the beginning of the next paragraph.

These women have a GUN on your child this is NOT the time to confront them - I guess Ria learned that lesson!

We don’t need Neal to turn them in. They killed Ria in front of her ten-year-old son who apparently - for some reason beyond my comprehension - is still alive! Isn’t he an eye witness? And they have this conversation in which they try to get Ria to lie for them IN FRONT of the little boy.

The police ask, “Why did they kill your mother?”
and he says  “Because she wouldn’t lie about their killing Vipul.”

Please when you get a chance look into my synopsis.  https://querytracker.net/forum/index.php?topic=24263.0

I’m sure you will find holes in it.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2020, 11:46:26 AM by MichelleG »
"You look at these scattered houses, and you are impressed by their beauty. I look at them, and the only thought which comes to me is a feeling of isolation and the impunity with which crime may be committed there." - Sherlock Homes, The Copper Beeches - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle