|Hello Stowe_Evermore I stumbled upon your piece here and thought I'd give it a read and share my thoughts.
The woman wasn't a bad person but right now she is the face... -- Change "wasn't" to "isn't" for tense.
The real and true bane of my existence Lacy Thorston co-worker, evil incarnate, or just a she-demon take your pick the woman was all of those. -- Generally, this sentence can be cleaned up.
The true bane of my existence, Lacy Thorston: co-worker, evil incarnate, or just a she-demon. Take your pick. The woman is all in one. It helps carry more pointed remarks.
The comma usage so far, in general, is lacking. Several sentences should have them for spacing and pacing reasons. That's just something I've noticed in the beginning so far.
I like the name of the company. "Graves Island Marketing"
...service/sales teams at GIM the mouse that hides behind the jello. -- The final part, after "GIM" can be easily set about with a semicolon.
People's names are dropped, both first and last. Then three descriptors are given of each character as if they're going to play a major role throughout the entire piece, even when they're not present. This is not necessary. We don't even need last names every time, or the history of one building or another. At the very least, if you do think giving brief histories is important, give them their own paragraphs to separate them from the action they've found themselves within.
I know that they are having a mystery competition if you want to meet us there. -- I have a feeling this will be significant to the plot. And maybe a twist.
"Yeah I'm with Brett, Prang does not seem the type to hide from a good fight and the things that Marcus said about Ms. Prang should have ruined her not elevated her. Unless she had a hand in what was being said and used it to her advantage." I said. -- I'm going to use this paragraph near the end as an example for how many things in the piece can be corrected.
"Yeah, I'm with Brett. Prang doesn't seem the type to hide from a good fight. And what Marcus said should've ruined her, not elevated her. Unless she had a hand in what was being said and used it to her advantage." Commas placed sparingly but effectively help the reader find the flow and follow along much easier. Contractions in dialogue should also be encouraged. We naturally use them all the time. A lot. Frequently. And each block of exposition from the main character doesn't have to end with "I said." It is often clear who is talking when all the other paragraphs have notations about who is saying what in them.
There is no story behind the crime." Detective Thomas Shereborne said as he entered the apartment. -- This feels awkward. The detective just walks in? I know that he's becoming close with the group, but it seems very improper from someone these people are only supposed to have known for a month. The "shock-factor" is supposed to be present, I believe, but it doesn't feel natural. Just the afternoon before, he was politely knocking. Grammatically, the period after "crime" should be a comma.
"Thank you for liking them. What about our theory?" Emmett said finishing off his lair. -- An instance where the dialogue feels unnatural. "Thank you for liking them" could be "Thanks. What about our theory?" This is a digression, but what's a "lair"? I'm not familiar.
Grayson Porter had finally decided to make an appearance... -- What an awkward scene. Why isn't there more of a reaction from Brett? Did he already talk to Grayson? Does Brett want to ignore him and hope he disappears?
In finishing the piece, I have my thoughts: it is quite long. For the reader, adding a header/subtitle to each section will help them scan ahead for a break that's coming up.
The length isn't a problem for someone who enjoys mysteries. The punctuation was the biggest problem for me, personally. Run-on sentences distract the reader and in the beginning, I felt like I was having to struggle through the piece to see what was happening. The quick backstories for each character could've been spaced out more naturally in conversation, if they were important, or left out. The entire first part taking place in the call center doesn't feel necessary at all in hindsight. The characters can just appear at the diner and explain how they left work early and what they saw (the "mystery" that kicks off this Scooby-gang's adventure).
Toward the end of the piece, I found myself wondering about character actions and reactions. Namely the dynamic between Brett and Grayson, but also the sudden change between Thomas and Brett. Regarding the detective, stating that he's only known the group a month feels like it's not enough time. How many cases could they have been questioned about/snooped around in a month? For plausibility, I'd suggest that he have a longer history with these characters. Maybe six months, or a year.
In glancing at your port, I noticed that Part 2 of this story is there, and that it looks to be just as long. I'm not sure I'll pick it up any time soon. The ending for this one is almost as satisfying for the reader than if they learned who actually committed the murders in the first place.
I know going back through a piece and editing the grammatical and structural errors can feel like a beast in and of itself. I often think, "But I already wrote it! I shouldn't have to do anything else!" In the end, it will be easier for the reader to enjoy. Go through it and see what could be trimmed, too. As stated already, little backstories for the characters don't have to be dispelled. Oftentimes, a waitress is just Megan the waitress.
Good luck with this and your future endeavors. I honestly can't recall exactly how I came across this story. It might've been in the By Online Authors section, or maybe under Read a Newbie, but I can't be sure. I know that I saw the title and clicked it and decided to commit myself. In mentioning the title, I'm now wondering what it is in reference to and am subtly realizing the answer may rest in Part 2.
Take care, and keep writing, please!
PS I was hoping the mention of the "mystery competition" would reveal that this entire story was one big ruse designed to be revealed and solved for fun at the competition. So far, that doesn't seem to be the case