I credit my grandma for my love of courtroom dramas. She lived with us when I was young, and we established a summer lunch routine: every day at noon we tuned in to Channel 20 and watched "Perry Mason" reruns (not to be confused with the HBO revamp coming in June). The criminal defense lawyer managed to clear the names of the falsely accused, usually through clever schemes where the real criminal outed themselves on the witness stand. It was very Elle Woods, for those of you born after 1980.
Naturally, I have since watched all 20 seasons of "Law & Order," along with other, lesser-known, 70s and 80s dramas such as "Soap" with Billy Crystal as a ground-breaking (gasp!) gay character, and Robert Guillaume's spin-off in "Benson." In one memorable episode, Benson accompanies his boss to a yacht party, where the host is mysteriously murdered...and everyone realizes one of their fellow guests is the killer. Benson finally solves the mystery by discovering that the victim had a habit of chewing the earpiece of his glasses, which had been dipped in poison.
The closed-room murder enthralled me, and I devoured classics like "And Then There Were None" and "Murder on the Orient Express." There is delicious tension between the horror of murder and the knowledge that the killer is walking among the survivors. There is a feeling that no one is above suspicion, and no one is safe.
So in the back of my mind, I always knew I wanted to put Fenway in a courtroom, and what better way to ratchet up the tension than to kill a key witness and keep the killer locked in the room?