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For Book: A Secret Worth Dying For
Old 08-21-2019, 09:14 AM   #1
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For Book: A Secret Worth Dying For

Please help me brainstorm this idea.

In an upcoming book, the defendant (Bob) will have a secret. If he reveals it, he will be acquitted, but he's willing to go to prison (or be executed) to keep it a secret.

SPOILER ALERT

The secret? Bob recently learned that the man his daughter married is her brother (he'd been given up for adoption at birth). Bob knows it will ruin their lives and break up their family if they find out.

I need to figure out a way that he will be acquitted only if he reveals the secret.

My current thinking is that he was meeting with someone at the time of the murder, giving him an alibi. But if people learn who he was meeting, they'll be able to figure out the secret.

Alternatively, the person he met with is blackmailing him, and if police/news media start looking into that, the blackmailer will reveal all.

Any other ideas for how revealing the secret will save Bob?

Thanks!
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Old 08-21-2019, 09:32 AM   #2
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How about having it be more of a moral/personal dilemma through the similarity between his and his son's DNA?

I don't know enough about the science but what if the cops found just enough of the murderer's blood at the scene to implicate Bob - but not enough to get a 100% match. If the cops tested his son's DNA it would show the same level of match, thus both revealing the secret and implicating his son as a possible murderer.
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Old 08-21-2019, 12:28 PM   #3
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I can see why it would break up their marriage, and hurt them very badly, but why would it ruin their lives? I think most people would want to know they accidentally married a sibling, lest it have an effect on any children born of the marriage. Or have they already produced children?
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Old 08-21-2019, 01:16 PM   #4
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He has an encrypted file (his diary perhaps) that contains both the evidence that will acquit him and the facts of his daughters marriage. Giving up his passphrase will reveal both.
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Old 08-21-2019, 01:26 PM   #5
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27 years ago Bob was a young husband with a pregnant, emotionally disturbed wife. They knew from the ultrasound that she was carrying twins. Sadly, Bob was also fooling around with another woman. One day, right around her due date, his wife found out about the other woman. She became uncontrollably enraged at him and left the house, saying that he would never see her or his children again. Bob went out driving around for almost a whole day looking for her, but he never found her.

That evening, newborn fraternal twins were found on the steps of a local church and taken to the hospital. Bob's wife was never seen again. Bob heard on the news about the babies found at the church and went to claim them, but he knew that he could not raise them alone. He had no other family members or close friends and his paramour had stated repeatedly that she was adamantly opposed to children. So, two days later, while he was at the hospital, he signed the necessary papers to let them be adopted.

The children were adopted by two different families. Several months after, the one that adopted the girl decided that they really didn't want her. By this time, Bob had changed his mind and wanted to raise his children. The adoption agency contacted him about the girl and he took her back from the adoptive family and raised her to adulthood, but he never saw his son again. He never told the girl that she had been adopted and then brought back or that she had a brother.

One day in college, Bob's daughter met a boy and they hit it off immediately. They found out that they shared a birthday and enjoyed many of the same things. People often told them they looked like brother and sister. Shortly after they married, Bob began to suspect that his son-in-law might actually be his son. He surreptitiously collected DNA from his son-in-law's toothbrush and sent it for testing. His suspicions were confirmed.

A year or two later, the daughter gave birth to Bob's grandchild. Around that time, work crews were tearing down an abandoned factory in another state, where they found the bones of Bob's wife hidden in a building that had been abandoned shortly after Bob's wife left him. The evidence at the scene showed she was the victim of foul play and had been killed in the room where she was found. Bob was arrested and charged with her murder.

By looking at the old company records, Bob's lawyer was able to establish that the room in the building where the wife's body was found had been been inspected and then sealed up on the day Bob was at the hospital signing the adoption papers. The time period between the inspection and the sealing was such that Bob could not have driven to the other state, killed the wife and returned. He has an alibi, if he will testify that he was in the hospital giving up his children for adoption at the time.

But if he does that, investigation will show not only that he willingly gave up his children, but that there were two of them - brother and sister - who are now married. The grandchild will be tarred as the product of incest. Bob decides to keep his secret.
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Old 08-21-2019, 01:33 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
I can see why it would break up their marriage, and hurt them very badly, but why would it ruin their lives? I think most people would want to know they accidentally married a sibling, lest it have an effect on any children born of the marriage. Or have they already produced children?
Yeah...this overrides the "oh but they'll be upset" thing for me. I think there is an obligation to spill the beans here, even moreso if they don't yet have children. I mean, isn't that something you'd rather know sooner than later? Not buying the "he has to take that to his grave" one....
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Old 08-21-2019, 02:12 PM   #7
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Made me think of "Chinatown" plot. So, Bob's daughter is also married to Bob's son, do they have the same mom? Or is it her 1/2 brother? I would think Bob's daughter and son would want him to live, so he should tell them who they really are and suggest they do not have children.
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Old 08-21-2019, 03:05 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gumby View Post
27 years ago Bob was a young husband with a pregnant, emotionally disturbed wife. They knew from the ultrasound that she was carrying twins. Sadly, Bob was also fooling around with another woman. One day, right around her due date, his wife found out about the other woman. She became uncontrollably enraged at him and left the house, saying that he would never see her or his children again. Bob went out driving around for almost a whole day looking for her, but he never found her.

That evening, newborn fraternal twins were found on the steps of a local church and taken to the hospital. Bob's wife was never seen again. Bob heard on the news about the babies found at the church and went to claim them, but he knew that he could not raise them alone. He had no other family members or close friends and his paramour had stated repeatedly that she was adamantly opposed to children. So, two days later, while he was at the hospital, he signed the necessary papers to let them be adopted.

The children were adopted by two different families. Several months after, the one that adopted the girl decided that they really didn't want her. By this time, Bob had changed his mind and wanted to raise his children. The adoption agency contacted him about the girl and he took her back from the adoptive family and raised her to adulthood, but he never saw his son again. He never told the girl that she had been adopted and then brought back or that she had a brother.

One day in college, Bob's daughter met a boy and they hit it off immediately. They found out that they shared a birthday and enjoyed many of the same things. People often told them they looked like brother and sister. Shortly after they married, Bob began to suspect that his son-in-law might actually be his son. He surreptitiously collect DNA from his son-in-law's toothbrush and sent it for testing. His suspicions were confirmed.

A year or two later, the daughter gave birth to Bob's grandchild. Around that time, work crews were tearing down an abandoned factory in another state, where they found the bones of Bob's wife hidden in a building that had been abandoned shortly after Bob's wife left him. The evidence at the scene showed she was the victim of foul play and had been killed in the room where she was found. Bob was arrested and charged with her murder.

By looking at the old company records, Bob's lawyer was able to establish that the room in the building where the wife's body was found had been been inspected and then sealed up on the day Bob was at the hospital signing the adoption papers. The time period between the inspection and the sealing was such that Bob could not have driven to the other state, killed the wife and returned. He has an alibi, if he will testify that he was in the hospital giving up his children for adoption at the time.

But if he does that, investigation will show not only that he willingly gave up his children, but that there were two of them - brother and sister - who are now married. The grandchild will be tarred as the product of incest. Bob decides to keep his secret.
Wow, this was good! It kept me guessing to the end!
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Old 08-21-2019, 06:53 PM   #9
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Thanks, Gumby! I'll be considering that.

My guess is that knowing your wife is your sister (full sister) would put a crimp in your sex life. Am I wrong? Also, if it's public knowledge, won't the siblings and their kids feel ostracized?

All cultures have a taboo about incest although details vary.

This has happened IRL, and some mention the strength of the attraction the unwitting sibs feel.

I got the idea from the 1868 book, The Mystery of a Hansom Cab. In that book, the revelation of a previous marriage means that a socialite is a bastard.
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Old 08-21-2019, 07:46 PM   #10
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You're welcome, Al. I see this scenario as offering room for the exploration of a number of moral dilemmas facing several characters. In addition to the central one involving Bob's choice, consider the following:

1. The daughter had a tough time growing up without a mother. Bob did the best he could to fulfill the role of father and mother, and his daughter loves him deeply, but there are some gaps that he could not fill. When she asked him about her mother, Bob replied truthfully that she had abandoned the both of them right after the daughter was born. When Bob is arrested, the daughter faces a crisis - does she believe that Bob is the thoughtful and hard working father who did an excellent job raising her without a mother, or is he the coldhearted killer who took the mother she longed for away from her and lied to her for all these years?

2. Bob's lawyer discovered the factory records and Bob either told him about the adoption or he learned of it otherwise. Bob has forbidden the lawyer from presenting a defense based on the rock solid alibi. Does the lawyer adhere to his client's wishes, or does he see that the truth is known? (relates to another question you asked recently).

3. One additional factor for Bob -- The grandchild has a birth defect caused by a recessive gene. Due to the brother-sister mating, the defect was manifested. The daughter and son are already distraught over their child's condition. If they learn that they are brother and sister and that is why their baby has the condition, they will blame themselves and Bob.
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Old 08-22-2019, 06:00 AM   #11
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I simply can't, in this day and age, see "hiding the dreadful secret." I'm not buying "tarred as a product of incest." We know that inbreeding can cause problems with offspring (although it might not, just one time). So the married couple must be informed.
But once the innocent, hopefully healthy, normal baby is born, sure some old people may mutter behind their hands, but most people will see a beautiful baby and leave it at that.
Maybe there's a 90-year-old great-aunt who will now cut the family out of her enormously rich will because she finds accidental incest so dreadful? But how does that advance the murder-based plot? So...i think a different Dreadful Secret is required; that's just my beta read on the subject.
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Old 08-22-2019, 06:20 AM   #12
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Gumby that is a fascinating and well-architected take. But I have to agree with Amethyst, if anything, all the MORE reason to now finally fess up and come clean. In this story, without the young couple knowing the real cause of the birth defect, they might have more children. And in 2019+, wouldn't any doctor finding such a rare defect recommend some sort of testing for the parents and then find out anyway?

Under the assumption that one day everything gets found out anyway (because it almost always does), imagine the daughter finding out 3rd hand - worse imo. Or let's say imagine that daughter finding out years later, after her father passed away in jail, without the chance to confront, resolve, reconcile...

While it sounds like he's sacrificing his freedom to protect his children from the upsetting truth, I see it still as a selfish. He's protecting himself from being rejected by his family.

The only way I would be "ok" with Bob keeping the secret is if it's made clear it's not his to tell..even then it's a stretch because of the health/children aspect. That he found out whatever it is by accident, (because if someone else told him and said "you can't tell anyone" they put a burden on him with a commitment he doesn't have to keep imo).
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Old 08-23-2019, 04:04 PM   #13
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>One additional factor for Bob -- The grandchild has a birth defect caused by a recessive gene.

That can be a nice extra thing.

>sure some old people may mutter behind their hands, but most people will see a beautiful baby and leave it at that.

Yes, that's a good point. If I continue with this secret, I'll have to make it that the accused is some kind of fundamentalist or has other reasons for feeling that the unintentional incest is an abomination against God or something. I only need for him (or her) to feel that it's better to be convicted than let the secret out.

I could also have a scene where the lawyer, after discovering the truth, argues with the accused that it's not as bad as he thinks. The lawyer can make the same arguments you guys have made.
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Old 09-10-2019, 09:26 AM   #14
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Relevant in the news today:

https://thestir.cafemom.com/love/221...usband-cousins
When the couple quickly discovered that they were closely related [first cousins], it nearly broke her husband's heart. ...

Since they made the discovery, she and her husband have been sleeping in separate rooms and he's refused to talk about what happened.
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Old 09-10-2019, 10:06 AM   #15
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I would think in our current state of medical advancement that if a child is born with any rare genetic condition, then both parents would have been exposed to a full DNA workup to find the issue. This would have inadvertently exposed the sibling connection.

One moral issue for the central character could be that his daughter has just told him that she is expecting their first child and is about 'two months along'. There is theoretically time for her to end the pregnancy and the two children to divorce and go their separate ways.

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Old 09-10-2019, 10:51 AM   #16
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Right. I've been considering having a child get Tay-Sachs, sickle-cell anemia, or cystic fibrosis.

I've learned that married first cousins are only 2-3% more likely to pass on diseases than unrelated people. That figure is much higher for siblings (from this article).

Maybe I'll give them one normal child with a second on the way. The lawyer figures things out, but can't break attorney-client privilege and inform the parents. But he finds a way or convinces the client to tell them, and a genetic test reveals that the fetus has one of these diseases. They decide to have an abortion. Lawyer is a hero.

Thanks for the idea.
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