“Do you think it’s possible to be too intelligent?” Aaron asked before he took a long sip of his Snapple.
It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving and the best friends were still digesting leftovers as they sat on their favorite bench along the river.
“Are you going to launch into some rant now about your big brain, how rough it was being the smartest kid in school, and how different your life’s path would have been if your stepmother had only taken you for an IQ test like you requested?” Holly asked with an extended eye roll.
Aaron had to chuckle. “While that does sound like something I would do, I was actually referring to the main character in my novel.”
Holly blushed in embarrassment and tried to cover her rosy cheeks by drinking her coffee.
Aaron shrugged. “I’ve been reading a lot of detective novels and watching a lot of detective shows to get a better feel for how my character should be. Usually, the detective is depicted as a genius and the criminals as bumbling nitwits, who always make a mistake.”
“Well, there’s your answer then,” she replied. “The detective is always the smartest one in the room. They say you should write what you know, so that should be a cinch for you.”
She winked after her compliment, but he didn’t seem to pick up on it. He was too busy ruminating over his problem.
“But that’s the thing,” he explained. “I don’t necessarily want my detective to be like all the others. I want him to be relatable. I want the reader to think they could have solved the mystery too if they had just paid a little more attention to the clues.”
Holly nodded like this made sense. “So rather than have him be the smartest one in the room, you’d like him to be the most observant and perceptive.”
Aaron’s face lit up in a smile. “Something like that. No offense to the general detective population, but I doubt squad rooms across the country are occupied by geniuses who picked solving crimes over coming up with the next great invention or a cure for cancer.”
“Then you should go for it,” Holly urged. “This will make your protagonist stand out from all the other detectives out there in literature. I think it’s fun that he’s a former jock who speaks like he never quite mastered the rules of grammar.”
“Could you imagine Sherlock Holmes trying to engage him in conversation?” Aaron asked.
They both had a good laugh at that one.
“I think you’re forgetting that the old Film Noir detectives weren’t cast from the same mold as Holmes and Poirot,” she pointed out. “Phillip Marlowe and Sam Spade were never going to win any IQ contests, and I bet they weren’t exactly lining up the public speaking engagements, but they always seemed to crack the case.”
“You’re so smart,” he stated the obvious.
“Then maybe you should base one of your detectives on me,” she suggested with a hopeful smile.
“I don’t think my brain could ever do your brain justice,” he quipped.
“I know that was probably meant as a sarcastic dig, but I’m choosing to take it as your admitting that I’m smarter than you,” she replied. “That’s me being the most perceptive person in this room.”
Aaron simply smiled. He knew better than to try to make an argument he couldn’t possibly win.