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Vicki Anne Griffin's picture

Bianca's Theory.

By Vicki Anne Griffin in Arrest Us

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Bianca's Theory is a short thriller where Forensic Investigator Bianca Mackenzie finds herself the target of a bizarre stalker whilst investigating a crime.


Robert VanCleave's picture
Robert VanCleave from The Land of Ice And Snow is reading "Sex Lives of Siamese Twins" by Irving Welsh June 5, 2014 - 8:43pm

Great story.  Wonderful detail and the internal dialogue was great.  My insidious nit-picking kept letting me get caught up by missing comas and disjointed sentences, but was compelling nonetheless.  The ending really took it up another notch too. 

W.a. Warner's picture
W.a. Warner June 6, 2014 - 10:02am

Nice story. I felt you did a great job of intertwining various elements, like mixing in rain and tea into the dialogue and action. Now you just need chapter two! Thanks for sharing!

Devon Taylor's picture
Devon Taylor from Allentown, PA is reading Doctor Sleep June 6, 2014 - 9:56pm

Overall a good story. Blake's character was interesting. Although I think you may have put yourself out of the running a bit because he may qualify as a serial killer. I really enjoyed the scene with Bianca in the car and the window breaking. There was a lot of descriptive detail there. I liked the ending as well, but I don't know that you gave yourself enough room to really expand the story the way you could have to give us the big surprise at the end. Also, I'm with Robert. The Grammar Nazi in me was a little picky about the missing punctuation and the structuring of some of your sentences.

Altogether a really good story. Bianca is an excellent heroine. Thanks for sharing!

Liam Sweeny's picture
Liam Sweeny from Albany, NY is reading Country Hardball June 7, 2014 - 11:35am

I like the surreal nature of the piece. Bianca's blending from within her head to what was actually happening. As far as the punctuation, it didn't bother me. But I would make a suggestion to use italics in certain places to show readers to put a little distinction between thought and reality. I think you could do that and have it still feel blended.


Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday June 9, 2014 - 1:09pm

Good story overall.  I did like the supernatural feel to it.  It felt a little obvious that it might be her husband, perhaps leaving out his growing interest in the cases earlier on would make it a bit more of a reveal.  either way, it seems like a solid start to more chapters/stories.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 12, 2014 - 4:44am

It may be just me, but I found this one quite confusing and hard to follow at times. There’s some really good stuff here, but it feels like you’ve compressed enough story for novella or larger into a short story, and it suffers because of it.

This would work better with a slow build up. I like the idea of intermingling the supernatural elements into this kind of crime story, and in my head I was comparing it at times to The Gift (underrated gem of a film). We really don’t have enough time to get to know Bianca (you say Bianca McKenzie in the description, but Bianca Grey in the story) or her relationship with Blake. Apart from one obvious nod to Blake’s growing morbid curiosity, there isn’t enough grounding here to get the sense of surprise you are looking for from the final reveal.

I think your prose shows a bit of a talent for descriptive narrative, which is well demonstrated in the opening segment. There are some very well written passages overall. There is perhaps a lack of urgency in the final sections where you could really effectively drive up the tension levels, as she slowly realises what is going on.

I was a bit confused when she was going to get the photo from Mrs McKenzie. You write about the fear that hangs over the place, but I don’t ever understand why. The daughter went missing 15 years ago, and the mother isn’t aware that a body has been found. Why is she afraid and close to tears? I wasn’t clear on what happened to the girl either. Has she been kept and raped for 15 years, and only just killed? Otherwise how could the animals have savaged the body? Also Blake dumping another body in the same spot so soon after the first had been found just doesn’t seem smart to me. If Blake has been doing this for 15 years, it begs the question why is she only getting these psychic visions now? Also, why underwear with tennis rackets on them? That one was bugging me.

You have the foundations of a really good story here, but I do think you need to flesh it out properly over at least novella length. The craft is there, the technique is there, you just need to let it breathe and fester over a greater word count. This could be Bones meets The Gift, and that is something I’d want to read.

Liam Hogan's picture
Liam Hogan from Earth is reading Hugo Nominations June 12, 2014 - 6:10pm

Hi Vicki,

Thanks for the story - alas, it doesn't quite work for me. (And not just because he's a serial killer...) I've noted some things that might be improved - mostly minor, but worth paying attention to:

Some typos (they always get through the net!) such as "she could here her softly sobbing" (hear).

Some repetition that when read aloud might make you stumble (they cowered; not wanting to know what goes on behind closed doors. Her job only allowed her to go beyond those closed doors after the damage had been done) - sometimes a repetition gives emphasis, sometimes it takes too much, and should be cut or replaced by a variation.

I like the idea of a partner who wants the gruesome details, but you seem to be torn between describing Bianca as hardened, (nothing shocked her any more) and then giving us all the signs that she is not (the tear, the empathetic images, etc). Either allow her her weaker side, that she covers up, or make it clear that this case is in someway special to her (reminds her of her first case, or of someone she knows)

"Blake, her husband" - use this form of address the FIRST time the husband is mentioned, afterwards, just refer to Blake?

We already know he wants to hear the gory details, so 2nd time around, perhaps something different :

“Blake, please can we leave it for tonight.”

Blake pouted, like a child deprived of his bedtime story, but she wasn't in the mood.


"The only clue they had was the ‘girlie’ magazines and men’s underwear that had tennis racquets on them" - ermm - did I miss the point when those clues were found?

Occassionally you change your POV : "I must look a sight standing in the middle of the road drenched" - unless you include "she thought", this jars against third person.

The "evil" aspect is not explained - the sudden storm, lightning, etc. Does it need to be there? If so, work it in better, as it feels extraneous. Ditto the drugging, when it seems as though there's more than one person in the room (as he's talking to someone?)

Ultimately, Blake "shows" himself to his wife. The question is why? If he loves the gory details, then he wants to be told of his crime via the police investigation - THATS an interesting idea. So go with that, make it harder for Bianca to piece together the fact it is Blake. Maybe have him pester her more and more for details, maybe even have him throw in the occassional red herring idea. But this all needs a more concretely worked out crime scene. Heck, I can imagine this piece ending with a maniacal "I'll have to make the next one more interesting, my love" before escaping into the night...

I hope you keep at it though, as there's definitely potential. Trouble is, I always want to rewrite stories that don't quite work my way... (oops)


Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK June 15, 2014 - 11:01am

This feels like a first draft to me, rather than a finished story. Maybe a few more revisions and some adjustments, as previously stated. Also, the serial killer thing. Good idea, though.

Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine July 28, 2014 - 3:03pm

I think you had a good voice in this story. "She had seen so many gruesome displays of what humans could do to one another..." This paragraph is really strong and it might be nice incorporated into the first paragraph. 

Here are the things that caught me up. I'm not sure, but I think that under normal circumstances there wouldn't be chunks of flesh around after this long. Also, why would Blake decide to start again now after so long? Did he move the body to the woods knowing Bianca would find it and mess with her head until he was confident he could convince her she was going crazy?

When you first mention the girlie mags, you don't say where or when they found them. I'm also unsure why a man who is going to be raping young women would need to have magazines to turn him on.

When Bianca catches Blake the first time you say " . The television was on and as she walked to it, an image of a young woman lay face down.." This sounded to me like an image on the T.V. I don't really believe the attitude that she has upon waking up. She's not even concerned about proving it was a dream. Checking the floor where she saw the dead woman would be a natural first step.

Finally, Why is Bianca not scared for her life in the end. She knows that he's a killer and that he knows everything about her and her schedule, not to mention the threatening note. Sorry if this comes across as harsh. I think you have a good story here, but it needs a little cleaning up. Good luck in the contest.