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Murder and intrigue at Westwood Library

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By Alexander Oliveira
Hometown Weekly Reporter

Before the audiences, a grizzly plot unfolds.

Before the audiences, a grizzly plot unfolds.

Last Wednesday, the Westwood Public Library hosted four mystery authors who demonstrated their talent by assembling the plot of a mystery novel on the spot. Over the course of an hour, the authors worked together, and with the audience, to come up with plot points and characters, talking shop and shedding some light on what it’s like to be an author along the way.

Authors Arelene Kay, Lisa Liebermann, Elisabeth Elo and Maureen Milliken sat at a long table with four labeled bags before them. Liebermann spoke as blank pieces of paper and pens were passed through the audience. “You’re going to provide us with the information needed to make a story,” she said.

Each bag was labeled with a single word: “Character,” “Weapon,” “Location,” and “Motive.” After the bags were filled, each author reached in and drew out a card, then discussed whatever ideas the card brought to mind.

The first character card read: “Sweet Sue.”

“Oh, I love it!” said Liebermann, “I’m definitely seeing a very two-faced individual in Sweet Sue - kind, caring, and thoughtful on the outside, but this one’s always got a motive, this Sweet Sue.”

And so, Sweet Sue became the villain of the tale.

From there, the discussion moved from locations for the story (a funeral home in Back Bay, Sweet Sue’s bakeshop), the motive (“Inheritance - its definitely got be about money. What else makes the world go ‘round?” said Milliken), and Sweet Sue’s weapon of choice, a topic where Kay shone.

“Oh, I’m very good with poison. I once put nicotine in a character’s conditioner. He was dead in minutes,” Kay said, to much laughter from the crowd.

Lisa Liebermann chooses her weapon.

Lisa Liebermann chooses her weapon.

The unlikely hero of the story would be a mother of three named Helen, an alcoholic who saw something she shouldn’t. Helen’s drinking leaves her doubted by all, except for Parkman, a stern insurance agent who helps her crack the case open and find herself along the way.

All these ideas, and a myriad of equally complex and eclectic plot points, poured out of the authors throughout the discussion - a testament to both their creativity and the strength of the Westwood Library’s programming.

For more information on the Westwood Library’s programs, visit

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