To read this story or to participate in this writing event, you only need a free account.
You can Login with Facebook or create regular account
To find out what this event is about click here

Jonathan V. Cann's picture


By Jonathan V. Cann in Arrest Us

How It Rates

Voting for this event has ended
Once you have read this story, please make sure you rate it by clicking the thumbs above. Then take a few minutes to give the author a helpful critique! We're all here for fun but let's try to help each other too.


Elevator pitch: Sherlock Holmes as a modern-day college student.

4,982 words.


Damon Lytton's picture
Damon Lytton from Augusta, Kansas is reading Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow July 6, 2014 - 11:56am

Hey Mark,

This was a pretty good story.  I liked the prose and you had some good characterization.  Jeff was a pretty good narrator and Rick showed some decent detective skills.  The relationship between these two reminded me of Dirk Gently and Richard MacDuff in a more realistic light.  I also love that Jeff seems like he regrets that they weren't closer in college.

The biggest flaw in the narrative for me is the time it takes between Chris's kidnapping and his rite of passage.  For some reason it doesn't ring as true that they would wait a whole day to make Chris jump from that tree.  It seemed like a plot contrivance to let Rick save the day.  I also have a problem with Rick not explaining what is going on and instead assert that it's easier to be shown.  After they save Chris's life, Rick still has some explaining to do.  I understand that you did it to keep the mystery alive, but it just seems like a narrative device.

Other than that, I thought the story was really well written.  Thumbs up from me.

Jonathan V. Cann's picture
Jonathan V. Cann July 6, 2014 - 2:57pm

Thank you so much!  The out-of-context assertions/demonstration/debriefing structure is actually a callback to the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in which Holmes would often taunt Watson and the other characters with hints about the things he'd deduced, but they'd still have to wait for Holmes to spring his plan (and, often, explain it more afterward) before they truly understood anything. It might be a dusty old gimmick, but I have a lot of affection for it.

By the way, my name isn't Mark, it's Jon (Jonathan V. Cann). I suppose I should find some way to display that. Mark the vigilante is the name of the protagonist from a YA series I write.

Wonder Woman's picture
Wonder Woman from RI is reading 20th Century Ghosts July 7, 2014 - 4:15pm

Hi Jon,

I really enjoyed your story and gave it an upvote. The flow and structure were great and the narrative was entertaining. The setting was unique and interesting for crime fiction. All in all a well written, fun to read story. Way to go! 

Jonathan V. Cann's picture
Jonathan V. Cann July 12, 2014 - 9:43am

Thank you! Your comments and attention are much appreciated.

Casey Hicks's picture
Casey Hicks from Brooklyn, NY is reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman July 11, 2014 - 7:16pm

What a fun, refreshing story, Jon. I love the way you took the sort of Sherlockian fad as of late and applied it to college students. The observations all make sense from a college standpoint, right through the twist. It felt natural rather than you giving some student superpowers of deduction. I enjoyed all the characters thoroughly.

I only have a few minor notes to tighten up the story. I'd avoid using the semicolon as much as you do. Once or twice in a story is fine, but it popped up multiple times per page. I like them occasionally, but as Kurt Vonnegut said, "They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing."

Regarding setting, I'd add "College," "University," or some other title behind "Coldstone" at least the first time you mention it. I thought they were studying in Coldstone Creamery and got quite confused. That's just the silly frame of reference I have for that name. Also, what year did you mean to set this in? It felt strange to mention Internet research (with newspaper articles online, at least) without anyone having a cell phone after the initial disappearance.

Like I said, those are just minor notes. They hardly bothered me. I liked the fact that you went light with this. It was a fun romp in mystery.

Jonathan V. Cann's picture
Jonathan V. Cann July 12, 2014 - 9:56am

Hey, thanks for reading!  Good point about the setting--this story takes place in autumn 2002, which falls within that very narrow period where the Internet was common but not everyone had a cell phone yet.  Especially smartphones have really changed what storytelling is plausible in contemporary settings.

Thanks again!  Your thoughts are very helpful.

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday July 17, 2014 - 12:19pm

Good story.  It was paced well and was easy to read.  I agree with Casey's comment about clarifying that it wasn't Coldstone Creamery.  It had me caught up for a bit.  The dialogue is quick, and there where a couple moments where a speech tag would have helped keep track of who is talking, mostly in the scene where they first enter the room in shambles.  Overall really good stuff.  Thanks for sharing and good luck.

Jonathan V. Cann's picture
Jonathan V. Cann July 20, 2014 - 6:41pm

Thank you for reading!

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK July 20, 2014 - 10:01am

Nice little detective story, although there were a few plot contrivances it flowed well and was well-written. There isn't a huge amount I can pick you up on, perhaps the big exposition dump at the start. I didn't really feel connected to the characters, they seemed a bit pretentious and irritating to me, but that's just my opinion, and I can see how others would get on with them.

Jonathan V. Cann's picture
Jonathan V. Cann July 20, 2014 - 6:45pm

Heh, I suppose I see where you're coming from.  Thanks for the look.

YouAreNotASlave's picture
YouAreNotASlave from Birmingham United Kingdom July 20, 2014 - 1:31pm

I enjoyed this, it was very light-hearted and fun, and came together well at the end. A good solid detective story, I like how you transposed the holmes watson relationship into a more modern format. The style was quite playful and flamboyant which was refreshing -- although you overuse exclamations marks a little for my liking and at time the characters would shout or act very over-emotionally which seemed un-necessary -- however I get that's part of the overall style so take or leave that criticism.

Regarding the plot, two points of criticism: with the paint being from a bucket and not spray painted, the reveal didn't really work because you only have the narrator point that out to the reader: they don't say it to Rick, so why would he be like 'That's not spraypaint' unless rick knows someone believes this to be so?

Similarly, with the phone lines being cut, if the purpose of removing the jacks was to stop people knowing Lambda-IM were on campus, why spraypaint the initials of the fraternity on the wall? This is a prety major plot point so I maybe would have preferred just the phone lines to be cut.

Aside from this though good solid story. Enjoyed it. Thumbs up!


Jonathan V. Cann's picture
Jonathan V. Cann July 20, 2014 - 6:45pm

You have the eye of an editor!  Those are both really good points that I will address.  Thanks for your comments, and for reading!

Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine July 22, 2014 - 10:21am

Good story. Your characters are well developed and Rick is especially interesting. I enjoyed the fact that he wants to keep everything a secret until the end. I think that overall this needs a bit of cleaning up and tightening though.  You create a lot of tension when Gordon comes in screaming and the other boys check out the trashed room. You interrupt that flow though by having Jeff describe the way the room looks normally. Maybe use that description before they go over to Gordon's or weave it into some of the faster paced paragraphs.

You say " I think we both froze" I would make this a definite. You have that privilege as a writer and it would have more of an effect if I imagined them both seeing something and freezing on the spot. When you say "I'll never forget how scared I was" it takes the reader out of the story and reminds them ( or me at least) that they are listening to a re-capped old story. The placement of that sentence is good and I like that he looks away in discomfort and sees the AIM mark. Maybe just re-work that beginning piece. Your story is good as it stands but I think it would be better with just a little more editing.


Jonathan V. Cann's picture
Jonathan V. Cann July 24, 2014 - 3:28pm

Thanks for reading, and for the good advice!

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 23, 2014 - 6:47am

I’ve been expecting a Sherlock Holmesian take on the guidelines, so it’s great to finally get to read one. I even toyed with doing one myself, before settling on what I submitted. This is a fun read, and flows very well. It kept me engaged all the way through. The characters were believable, and the dialogue was good.

I don’t have a lot of negative comments. If I was going to pick something, I’d say that perhaps the outcome was a little neat, but at the same time I think that’s an easy thing to say about a story of this type. The inconsistency with regards to the yanked line / symbol on the wall has already been picked out, but that was only glaring things that jumped out at me.

Overall, good job and a solid thumbs up.

Jonathan V. Cann's picture
Jonathan V. Cann July 24, 2014 - 3:35pm

Yeah, I'd totally be fixing that inconsistency right now if I were still allowed to edit my submission.  Thanks for reading!  I'll be checking out your story, too, along with the stories of others who have commented here.