“Smooth talking lothario found tongue tied.”

With that crisp and evocative turn of phrase, Sue Hinkin captured overall  top honors in the The Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers of America chapter’s 6-word mystery contest Thursday night.

Winners of the RMMWA contest receive cash, gift cards and publication in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, The Colorado Sun and the RMMWA website and its newsletter, Deadlines. Finalists in each of five categories also earned an invitation to the chapter’s virtual Mystery & Mistletoe Holiday Party.

Entries were judged by a panel that includes Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine Editor Linda Landrigan; New York Times best-selling author Anne Hillerman; award-winning author, lawyer and activist Manuel Ramos; BookBar Denver store owner Nicole Sullivan; and literary agent Terrie Wolf.

Judges earlier had narrowed the field to five finalists in each category, and then the RMMWA membership determined the winners.

The contest attracted 317 total entries from 85 individuals. Contestants came from 22 states literally from coast to coast and as far away as Australia, Canada, South Korea and the United Kingdom.

This year The Colorado Sun also urged readers to submit their 6-word mysteries for a parallel contest. Those results in our just-for-fun contest are listed below, with the winners earning some Sun swag.

* Category winner

** Overall winner

Police Procedural

Dispatch balked: no backup during zombiepocalypse.  (Benjamin Hiller)  

Exhumed the casket; found it empty.  (Nana Herron) 

Genealogist discovered dead in cemetery.  (Charlene Dietz)

Hipster solution to overpriced hitmen: DIY. (Jeffrey Lockwood) 

* “Tattoo Killer” fingered for signature crimes.  (Rita Popp)  

Romance & Lust

Honeymoon Chasm yawned. The bridegroom didn’t.  (Jennie MacDonald)

Royal wedding day last known citing. (Renata Waldrop)  

She–the killer–was my ex-husband.  (Cabby Cabison)

* ** Smooth talking lothario found tongue tied.  (Sue Hinkin)

So gorgeous I almost believed her.  (Matthew Porter)


* “Grandma, you’ve gotta stop killing people!”  (David Bart)

Dear Judge, I know your address…  (Jeffrey Lockwood)

House ablaze, husband watched, now single.  (Vy Kava)

Ritalin helped Chuckie. Until it didn’t.  (Richelle Elberg)

Scratching sounds inside coffin busted mortician.  (Theodore Iliff)


Cake was baked, faked, stomachache, wake.  (Richard Boersma)

* Chef killed; charges are wonton cruelty.  (AJ Hartson)

Embezzling manicurist nailed by digital detectives.  (Rita Popp)

Gardener has knack for bleeding hearts.  (K.R. Hindman)

Wore rose-colored glasses, missed red flags.  (Kristin Horton)


Another murder, barkeep…must solve whiskey.  (Lee O’Brien)

* “Are you ok?” Gunshots. “Better now.”  (Vaibhav Hassija)

Hunted, she hid. Cheap perfume lingers.  (Daniel Ginsberg)

Jameson, neat. Rocky affair. Nightcapped nark.  (Andrea Stout)

Vinnie’s black sedan careened into oblivion.  (Mary Burgess)

The Colorado Sun contest

We lumped all entries into a single category:

Wake up! We must escape now! (Joanne Terry)

Instantaneously, the alien became its host.

No ammo; worsening scurvy. Fleet lost.

Murder wasn’t suggested; it was mandated. ( 3rd place)

A disembodied foot. Never postmating again.

(Multiple entries from Sean, whose last name remains a mystery)

What happened was he fell downstairs. (Ross Morgan)

Bitter almond flavored salad dressing served.

Footprints from fireplace to spouse’s bed.

Cookie jar empty. Who took them?

Cheese stolen from mousetrap overnight, alas.

Lipstick stains collar; husband doubts story.

Death by Chocolate slaughters dessert competition.

Dame claims patsy private investigator maims.

(Multiple entries from Seth Lederer)

Her solitude, he proved, was illusory. (Sam Stookesberry)

An ocean view. Watch out. Oops. (1st place)

Here’s you ‘chute. Enjoy your jump.

Who is this? Hello? Hello? Hello?

(Multiple entries from Craig Sirkin)

For sale: Covid mask, never worn. (Chris Romer)

Second wife. Bloody knife. Tahiti life. (2nd place) (Carol McKinley)

Covid or convenient excuse for murder? (Deb Whittaker)

I am. Or not. It seems. (Gerald Monge)

Clues encrypted, cipher cracked, jury convicted. (Reed Morris)

Covid or not, the strong survive. (James Hanzelka)

Kevin Simpson

Kevin Simpson

Kevin Simpson is a co-founder of The Colorado Sun and a general assignment writer and editor. He also oversees the Sun’s literary feature, SunLit, and the site’s cartoonists. A St. Louis native...