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El Jackinton's picture

Lisa Cummings and the Case of the Exploding Meat

By El Jackinton in Arrest Us

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Private Investigator Lisa Cummings and her Police liaison Andy Browning investigate a death at the local abattoir. With pressure from above to solve the case before the Westbrook Meat Festival, and the evidence becoming ever more complicated, there is a very real risk that they might just jump to the wrong conclusion.


Devon Taylor's picture
Devon Taylor from Allentown, PA is reading Doctor Sleep June 7, 2014 - 1:40pm

This was a good read.  The characterization was really vivid.  Lisa Cummings is a really cool character that has a lot of great personality and spunk.  The chemistry between her and Andy was really believable as well.  I actually laughed out loud at the Ellen Degeneres joke.  The homage to Sherlock Holmes is readily apparent, even without the not-so-subtle Watson remark.  Good stuff.  As for the plot itself, that seemed a little cramped.  You may not have had enough room to employ such a complicated mystery.  If Cummings's brilliance is what eventually solved the case, I would have liked to have seen more of her reevaluating the evidence and working it out on her own.  Also, it was sometimes hard to figure out who's point of view I was in.  It seemed to jump around a lot in that regard.  Otherwise it was a great story.  I'd love to see another outing for Lisa and Andy.  Thanks for sharing!

Joe P's picture
Joe P from Brainerd, MN is reading Wheel of Time June 8, 2014 - 8:41pm

This just didn't pass the "so-what" test for me. For me this read like a forgettable episode of a police procedural.

Your story did have its strong points. The idea of a butcher being shrapenalled into his surrounding product is disturbingly interesting. The two detectives connecting over videos games made them interesting. 

Both the European setting and the lesbian angle seemed forced. The world is a diverse place and our stories should be full of diverse characters and settings, I'm just not sure why either are important to the story. Or maybe your mentions of them just come off as heavy handed. Also, the meat festival doesn't really add anything to the story. Maybe if there where characters invested in the festival then it would hold weight.

You take on a lot of plot inside the 5,000 word limit. A lot of characterization too. Maybe if you had an ongoing serial (which I feel is what you'd like to do) everything would come off more naturally and nothing would seem forced. Inside of 5,000 words it's too much to take on.

Hope this helps. Good luck!

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK June 14, 2014 - 12:49pm

I liked this. It's full of clichés, like a wry pastiche. I hope it's meant to be tongue-in-cheek, otherwise I may change my rating. Still, better than Dan Brown.

Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday June 16, 2014 - 10:15am

This was a good time read.  Not too heavy, which is nice.  I agree with some of the other comments about there being a lot to squeeze into the word limit and the lesbian portion feeling a bit forced, mostly in the beginning.  It seemed there were a few more mentions of it than necessary to get the point across.  The last sentence cut off in the middle, not sure if it was just my download or an accident.  Overall it was an easy quick read with enough high points to keep the reader engaged.  Best of luck.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) June 18, 2014 - 12:40am

This was hilarious. From the ridiculous title to the cheesy fist bump at the end, this is wonderfully tongue in cheek, and not only does it not take itself too seriously, it works as parody. It does read like an English version of a take on Dan Brown, and you’ve nailed his penchant for dumping exposition stupidly into the dialogue (“You mean why has the Chief Inspector's favourite twenty-something private detective been invited on as a consultant?”).

There is some great shoe-horning going on here too. The entire lesbian angle comes from nowhere, adds little to the story, but you wring some good humour from it. The gaming stuff is bizarrely shoe-horned again. Neither of these is criticism though, because they help you nail that parody tone down perfectly.

There are still weak spots, even taking out the obvious lampooning. It is resolved far too easily, and out of leftfield, by Lisa simply reviewing the file. When we learn of what really happened, it is after the fact, so there is no real tension at play. Any introspection from Lisa’s perspective is ended with the cheesy LAN stuff. There but for the grace of God… ooh, gaming invite. The second half is rushed, but that looks to be because you were running out of word count. If Lisa is Northern, then you really want to give her some stereotypical Northern speech. Maybe have her call everyone Duck, or Flower.

The other issue I think is evident in some of the comments you’ve been getting. When you ape bad writing for humour, if your agenda is not obvious enough, readers are going to assume it’s serious. Very early on I assumed it was a serious piece of writing, and it didn’t click for me until further on. There haven’t been too many out and out humorous pieces in the contest so far. You might want to consider adding a comment to clarify that you were going for humour.

This gave me a big goofy grin when reading it, so thanks for that. I enjoyed it a lot, and I hope you do well with it.

Aud Fontaine's picture
Aud Fontaine from the mountains is reading Catch-22. Since like, always. June 21, 2014 - 3:32pm


I loved your story. I really, really did. I honestly don't even have any real critical feedback, I just wanted to write to tell you how much I enjoyed it. There's a strong chance I'm in love with Lisa, your plot was fun and I was really grateful for the twist at the end. The feminist overtones and the connection to recent events were also deeply appreciated touches. The only thing that maybe wasn't spot on in my opinion was Andy. It would've been kind of nice to flesh him out a little bit more and maybe go deeper into his character like you did with Lisa. It also might have been nice to see more of their relationship. They're a fun team. It still works swimmingly, and with a different, less fully realized partner, I probably wouldn't have cared it's just that when you put him next to Lisa, her strong characterization kind of overpowers his slight lack of characterization. But this is, again, not a big deal. I think considering the limited word count you did an excellent job. Kudos.


Cmangano's picture
Cmangano from Maine July 10, 2014 - 5:54pm

This is the first mystery I've so seen so far and I'm glad that you took this route. A lot of the story is sort of cliche, but in a good way. It feels like a throwback to an old detective show. I love how silly it is in some places. It is a little convenient though that the perp admits guilt immediately, maybe a little more back and forth there would make it a little more believable, then again you are working with a sort of parody style throughout, so it fits in that aspect.

My criticisms are few and minor.

"Lisa and Andy looked at each other again, just like they had earlier. That silent communication was happening again." These two sentences seemed to be repetitive and could be made into one.

"“You're not a suspect Mr Carruthers,” Andy reassured him, “We're just looking for anything about Mel that could help us with this case.”.....
 “I didn't say anything before because I was worried it would make me a suspect,” he said."

This also seemed unnecessarily repetitive. I read it as: You're not a suspect. Oh, well good. I thought I might be a suspect

Other than that i think you have a great story really one of the funniest I've read so far.