Short and Sinister: Five-sentence Mysteries and Thrillers

Posted by Cybil on April 30, 2017

Mystery & Thriller Week is sponsored by the psychological page-turner Good Me Bad Me.

"It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important," Sherlock Holmes says in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.

And it's true that sometimes the small things that can sneak up on you. That's definitely the case with the stories below. We asked some of the most interesting authors in the genre to write us an original story that could be about any thing at all, with just one catch— they only had five sentences to tell their tale. Let's just say these terribly dark (very) short stories had us hooked. Intrigued? Be sure to add their new books to your Want to Read shelf.


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Sisterly Love by B.A. Paris

She was everything that I was not—beautiful, intelligent, with an unsullied mind, the apple of our father's eye, and while she was around I knew I would never be happy.

So I decided to kill her, but in such a way that it would look like suicide, because she had recently split up with her boyfriend and so, was depressed. I waited until she was in the bath, up to her neck in bubbles and foam, and walked in wearing top-to-toe black with only slits for my eyes, holding a huge kitchen knife, the one she was scared of, and a cupful of pills.

The knife, held inches from her terrified face, did the trick, and with tears spilling from her eyes she gulped down the pills, then, as sleep overtook her, slid slowly into the water and drowned. I replaced the knife, went up to my room, put my school uniform back on, wrote the essay Father had set me on Sisterly Love, and waited for someone to tell me she was dead.


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The Killer Is In This Room by Anthony Horowitz

The three of them woke up in a subterranean room with no windows and a solid, metal door, not just locked but bolted three times from inside. There was a dead woman lying on the floor between them with the rope that had strangled her still around her neck. They noticed a message that had been spray-painted very recently onto the brickwork, the bright red letters still damp and tacky. It read: THE KILLER IS IN THIS ROOM. The three of them looked at each other.


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The House Guest by J.P. Delaney

"Annie was an excellent host," I wrote, "and in many ways the perfect Airbnb-er. Not only did she greet me on arrival with a glass of chilled Puligny-Montrachet, she had also filled my room with fresh flowers. Unfortunately, I am not a fan of lilies—I find their fragrance cloying and sweet, like decaying matter. I left some strewn across her naked corpse before I departed. Had they been something more cheerful, such as daffodils, I would have had little hesitation in awarding her five stars."



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INSIDE by Megan Miranda

In the shed there was a man, and in the man there was a knife, its handle sticking from his back as he lay face-down on the musty earth floor. She didn't know the man, but she knew the knife, the swirling detail of the silver handle. She had in fact last seen the knife in her brother's room the night before, where he carved angry notches into the surface of his desk. At least, this is the story she tells the police to explain why she has the murder weapon in her hand as she darts from the scene of the crime.

She walks inside her empty house as the police lead her brother away, and she thinks she finally understands the saying Two birds, one stone.



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Runaway by Edan Lepucki

The woman making her way through the trees had a black eye and a dead dog draped over her back, its tongue dripping out of its mouth, flies already circling its eyes. I thought I had imagined her until the detective showed up at my door, asking about the woman down the block, said she and her dog had gone missing, that the husband was looking for them. I played dumb and stayed there until nightfall when I found myself by my car with nowhere to go but far from my empty house, and I noticed the trunk wasn't closed all the way. I pushed it open and there was the dog, slumped inside, stiff and stinking of rot, and I imagined the woman, who would be free once her eye healed. I buried the animal before sunrise.



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The Missing Husband by Michelle Campbell

When the storm cleared, the beach house had been severely damaged, and David was missing. The police questioned Hailey several times in the weeks that followed, and they weren't treating her like the grieving widow. They wanted to know about her relationship with Brandon, and about the money that had gone in and out of her bank account. She told them the truth, and whether or not they believed her, they couldn't prove anything different. Nobody could, until years later, when David was pulled over for a DUI under another name, in another state, where he'd been living with his other family in fine style on the money he'd stolen from his clients.



Be sure to check out more of our Mystery & Thriller Week coverage here.

Good Me Bad Me

Comments Showing 1-32 of 32 (32 new)

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message 1: by Tasya (new)

Tasya Dita Anthony Horowitz's one is the best! I really want him to write a book based on that!


message 2: by Kaustubh (new)

Kaustubh Tasya wrote: "Anthony Horowitz's one is the best! I really want him to write a book based on that!"

Agreed!


message 3: by Kavya (new)

Kavya Bhat I think the best ones are Sisterly Love and The Killer Is In This Room!


message 4: by Kate (new)

Kate I've never read any Anthony Horowitz books before but based on "The Killer is in this Room" I'm about to start!


message 5: by LaZia (new)

LaZia The Killer is in the Room!!!!! Who is the killer? Who's the dead woman? Why are we there? TOP TOP TOP


Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* Enjoyed these - thanks for the creative post.

Agree that Anthony's may be the best. I love the 'which one of us dunnit" type of mystery


message 7: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Mengeling I liked all of them, but Runaway is my favorite. I also liked the tone of the narrator of Sisterly Love.


message 8: by Petr (new)

Petr The House Guest is the best.


message 9: by Carol (new)

Carol I love Anthony Horowitz. Please flesh this one out. It's already a winner!


message 10: by Krystal (new)

Krystal Loved the first two, though I feel like I've seen a B-grade horror film that does the whole, 'the killer is in this room' thing. Freaky.

'Inside' was pretty creepy too! These mystery authors sure come up with some sordid characters.


message 11: by Mickey (new)

Mickey I have to say, I liked them all. I think I'd be most likely to read novel length versions of Sisterly Love & The House Guest first, but would read them all if availble. :-)


message 12: by RJ from the LBC (new)

RJ from the LBC So...what's up with Michele Campbell and husbands?


message 13: by Kim (new)

Kim Weiss Speaking of short page-turners, check out MIDLAND CLUB by Mark Spano, a critically acclaimed, 120-page mystery novel that's been compared to classic Film Noir and Midnight In The Garden of Good & Evil. You will not be able to put it down until you've finished it! Here's the Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3...


message 14: by mwana (new)

mwana The Killer Is In This Room by Anthony Horowitz

The three of them woke up in a subterranean room with no windows and a solid, metal door, not just locked but bolted three times from inside. There was a dead woman lying on the floor between them with the rope that had strangled her still around her neck. They noticed a message that had been spray-painted very recently onto the brickwork, the bright red letters still damp and tacky. It read: THE KILLER IS IN THIS ROOM. The three of them looked at each other.

THIS IS THE BEST!


message 15: by Simi (new)

Simi Sunny The best mystery stories that I've read so far is The Electric Empire series by Viola Carr. It's based off of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, except they're gender flipped. Their names are Dr. Eliza Jekyll and Miss Lizzie Hyde. And fun fact, they're sisters, who are trying to crack down mysteries (mostly Eliza). I love the series so much. So many plot twists. I cannot solve a msytery when I'm reading, thanks to Viola's creative mind. So if you love a good mystery, fantasy, and suspense. check it out!


message 16: by Caroline (last edited May 03, 2017 10:11PM) (new)

Caroline Very good post.
I enjoyed them all, but like most of the others who have commented "The Killer Is In This Room" is my favourite.


message 17: by Penny (new)

Penny Kavya wrote: "I think the best ones are Sisterly Love and The Killer Is In This Room!"

Agreed!


message 18: by Robert (new)

Robert Tasya wrote: "Anthony Horowitz's one is the best! I really want him to write a book based on that!"

Until this happens, I'd recommend watching the film Unknown, with Jim Caviezel and Greg Kinnear. It's beginning is very similar, and has nice twists right until the last second.


message 19: by Rita (new)

Rita I like The Houseguest the best.


message 20: by Alex (new)

Alex Enjoyed them all, but Edan Lepucki's was the best--original, complete, and captivating within the bounds of five sentences. I agree that The Killer Is In This Room has been played out.


message 21: by Irene (new)

Irene IMO the Horowitz idea is cliched. While Paris, Delaney and Miranda are all brilliant! Can't wait to read their books. I also liked Edan Lepucki...I interpreted it as a feminist revenge.


message 22: by Isabel (new)

Isabel S. Though I am usually a Horowitz fan, I have to say that I like "Runaway" and "Sisterly Love" better. Those two were very creepy.


message 23: by Marilyn (new)

Marilyn Loved all of these, but "Sisterly Love" was my favorite, closely followed by "The House Guest." Terrific starts to great books!


message 24: by Sakib (new)

Sakib The first two are the best... loved them!


message 25: by Ellen (new)

Ellen The Killer is in this Room! That's like Agatha Christie but with knobs on!


message 26: by Jane (new)

Jane Schwarz Loved them all.


message 27: by Simi (new)

Simi Sunny Check out my novel, The White Sirens if you're interested in mystery and suspense. ^-^ Available on Amazon in ebook version.


message 28: by Robert (new)

Robert Horowitz's was my favorite. His Sherlock Holmes book House of Silk was excellent, worth checking out...


message 29: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa I need all of these to be full novels! I loved them all.


message 30: by Ischiv (new)

Ischiv Sisterly Love, then Runaway. The dog really got me. Why the hell do men go after the animals, just to hurt the woman? Bastard. She should have shot him and put HIM in the trunk!


message 31: by Kate (last edited May 06, 2017 07:42PM) (new)

Kate McVaugh Hotel Oasis #mysteryweek

Nestled on a long expanse of isolated beach, the once picturesque little town now existed only as a few dilapidated huts and the deserted, aging Hotel Oasis.

Now and again squatters took up residence in the once glorious oceanfront rooms that looked out onto palm trees, grey sand, and blue water. More often, the inhabitants ran to mice, birds, feral dogs, and the occasional monkey.

The corner room above the long-defunct bar had always had the best view and breezes. The young man, smartly dressed in new travel gear, sat propped up against the wall, his lifeless brown eyes staring out at the rising sun.


message 32: by Simi (new)

Simi Sunny Vanessa wrote: "I need all of these to be full novels! I loved them all."

If you're looking for a mystery novel, you can check out my book. :) It's in ebook version.


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