Detective comedy 3: Getting the job

Getting the job

Introduction

An envelope

In Lesson 1, the detective agency was introduced (they’re broke), and in Lesson 2 it was the client (they’re unusual). The next detective story trope is that it’s time for the client to tell the detective the job.

Read the following passage.

Naples laid a carefully manicured hand on the desk. His initials—JN—were cut into a gleaming ring. There was so much gold around that third finger he could have added his name and address, too. “I want to deposit something with you,” he said.

“Deposit?” Herbert repeated quite unnecessarily. The dwarf might have had a thick accent, but it certainly wasn’t as thick as my brother. “You mean… like in a bank?” he continued, brilliantly.

The dwarf raised his eyes to the ceiling, took in the crack in the plaster, and then, with a sigh, lowered them onto Herbert. “I want to leave a package with you,” he said briskly. “It’s important you look after it. But you must not open it. Just keep it here and keep it safe.”

“For how long?”

Now the dwarf’s eyes darted across to the window. He swallowed hard and loosened his bow tie. I could see that he was scared of something or somebody in the street outside. Either that or he had a fear of storm windows.

“I don’t know,” he replied. “About a week maybe. I’ll come back and collect it… when I can. You give it to nobody else except for me. You understand?”

The Falcon's MalteserAnthony HorowitzSource

Jobs in detective stories usually have one or more of these features:

  • You’re not given all of the information. Maybe the client is hiding something. Maybe the client thinks it’s dangerous if the detective has too much information. Maybe the client is shot before finishing. It’s never simple.
  • The job isn’t quite what it seems. Maybe it seems simple, but isn’t. Maybe the client isn’t aware of it themselves. Maybe they’re lying.
  • It’s an offer the detective can’t refuse. Maybe it’s interesting, or it pays well, or there are consequences if the detective doesn’t take the job.
Your turn

You’re not logged in!

If you want to save your writing, login and either assign this lesson to yourself or access it via your group.

Like what you see?