Motive for Murder

Life was already challenging enough for 32-year-old Randall Riggs Jr., living in New York City during the pandemic, estranged from both his father and his one true love, ex-girlfriend Molly O'Sullivan. Now podcaster Cecily Stephens has been found dead on the floor of a NYC bistro. For reasons that Randall cannot begin to understand, a ruthless agent known as Benny the Carnivore has identified Randall and five of his colleagues as suspects in the brutal murder. The carnivore's threats set the "Gang of Six" off on a series of adventures as they race across Manhattan, trying to solve the puzzle.

Compass 2021

Back in January, I was invited to write a novella that would serve as the foundation for Compass 2021. Compass is an “epic late night puzzle hunt in the streets of New York City.” Teams “hunt for, contemplate, unravel, decipher, and ultimately solve a series of unique puzzles embedded in the urban landscape of New York City.” I wrote a first draft of Motive for Murder and gave it to the puzzle-designers. Thankfully, they loved the story. They began crafting puzzles, based on the story. Then I began revising the story to reflect the puzzles. We went back and forth, puzzles inspired by the story, the story inspired by the puzzles. Our goal was to create a seamless experience that blurred the line between fiction and reality.

At 2:00 on Saturday afternoon, twenty four teams learned that they had been implicated in a murder. For the next twelve hours, they raced through the streets of Manhattan, solving fiendishly difficult puzzles (and adhering strictly to Covid protocols) before the climactic conclusion at 2:00 Sunday morning. I did an author talk at the mid-point of the puzzle hunt. When I read an excerpt from Motive for Murder, the teams discovered that they were characters in the novella. (I was as well). At that moment, the teams realized just how fine the line is between fiction and reality. But one thing about Compass 2021 was undeniably real. We raised more than one million dollars to support services to at-risk children and families in NYC, through the work of Good Shepherd Services.