The results of the 2021 Six-Word Mystery Contest sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America (RMMWA) have been announced.

Overall winner:


He gaslighted her. She candlesticked him.

This entry, written by Jean Garrison of Florida, was voted the winner over 25 final entries voted on by RMMWA’s members and announced at the chapter’s Mystery and Mistletoe holiday party held Dec. 9th.


This year’s contest attracted 346 entries by 66 individuals from 20 states, plus international entries from Australia, Canada, Puerto Rico and Singapore. Entries were submitted for one of five mystery categories including Hard Boiled or Noir; Cozy Mystery; Thriller Mystery; Police Procedural Mystery; and/or a mystery with Romance or Lust.


RMMWA Chapter President Margaret Mizushima said, “This year’s six-word entries were so creative. They made us laugh-out-loud, cringe, and groan all in good fun.”


Judges for this year’s contest included Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine Editor Linda Landrigan; New York Timesbest-selling author Anne Hillerman; award-winning author, lawyer and activist Manuel Ramos; literary agent Terrie Wolf, owner of AKA Literary Management; and John Charles of The Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona.


Garrison won $100 for her winning entry and all genre finalists received $25 gift cards. All finalists and their stories will be featured on the RMMWA website, published in Deadlines, RMMWA’s newsletter, the spring issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, and The Colorado Sun. A list of the final entries and winners is included at the end of this release.


According to legend, the first six-word novel was born in the 1920s when Ernest Hemingway at New York’s Algonquin Hotel or Luchow’s restaurant (depending on whom you ask) won a $10 bet by writing a six-word story. His dark and dramatic submission was: “For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.” Urban legend or no, memorable, heart-breaking and sublime six-word stories have been penned ever since.


Read on for the finalists and winners in all five categories:


Chimney sweep murdered. Shot through hearth.  (ZJ Czupor)

A pie so good, it killed.  (Cynthia Kuhn)

Baker battered over muffin top comment.  (Lori Lacefield)

She died to hide her roots.  (Jean Garrison)

Wanted: botanicals expert (nightshades). Confidentiality required.  (Robert Miller)



Detective follows hunch back to Notre-Dame. (Jennie MacDonald)

A badge makes vengeance murders easier. (Pat Remick)

Disappearance of dame derails detective’s denouement.  (William Frank)

Embezzling mob accountant’s days were numbered.  (Jean Garrison)

Lifeless eyes glisten in the streetlamp.  (Darynda Jones)


Police Procedural

Librarian booked for murder, justice overdue.  (Angela Henry)

Gregor’s dead. Father suspected of insecticide.  (Jeffrey Lockwood)

“I’m no flight risk!” insisted emu.  (Jean Garrison)

Success? The murder made the news.  (Dru Ann Love)

White collar thief nabbed for laundering.  (Brooke Terpening)



He gaslighted her. She candlesticked him.  (Jean Garrison) (Over-all contest winner)

Exhibitionist murdered. Rounded up usual voyeurs.  (Ryan Garms)

Florist arranged knotted noose for Bridezilla.  (Kristin Horton)

Promised his heart. Kept his promise.  (Julie Kerr Daly)

Silk stockings, a new neck accessory.  (Barb Bathrick)



3 people, 2 parachutes, 1 dilemma. (Sage Naumann)

In every mirror, I’m someone else.  (Kristin Horton)

Serial killer periodically opens BBQ stand.  (Mary Stojak)

The wildfire raged. Grinning, he spit. (Mike Chiropolos)

They almost escaped. Then he sneezed.  (Lissa Marie Redmond)