A psychological riddle of sorts has been making the rounds in cyberspace. It might have landed in your Inbox. Now you might be good at guessing the answer to riddles like this one. My failure to solve this particular puzzle cast a self-revealing light on something I'm accustomed to examining in others: Motive.
Though motive need not be proved in a courtroom, in a crime story, discovering and revealing motivation is essential. Motivation is something I brood on as intensely as some people I write about try to conceal it. Here's what I've noticed. Even with suspects who confess—those who are willing to ask themselves and reveal to others the Why of their crimes—what drives us to extremes is often more of a mystery to ourselves than it is to observers.
You might recall a scene from The Silence of the Lambs, where Special Agent Clarice Starling says to serial killer Hannibal Lecter: "You see a lot, Doctor. But are you strong enough to turn that high-powered perception on yourself?"
If you read mysteries and crime stories, you likely see a lot too when it comes to identifying what powers the mens rea behind every criminal act.
In this riddle, you will be asked to discern another's motivation. How you answer will shine a high-powered light of perception on yourself. I racked my brain on this one but did not get it right. Let's see how good you are at guessing motive. Here is the text of the message I received:
The following is not a trick question. It is as it reads. No one I know has gotten it right. A woman, while at the funeral of her own mother, met a guy whom she did not know. She thought this guy was amazing. She believed him to be her dream guy so much, that she fell in love with him right there, but never asked for his number and could not find him. A few days later she killed her sister.
Question: What is her motive for killing her sister?