Friday, January 11, 2013

Turn right at the light
By John M. Floyd

Appearing in January 21, 2013 issue.
For sale date: January 11th

Tag Line:  Angela heard the distress call come in, and she didn’t like the sound of it.  Not one little bit …
The Police: Sheriff Charles Jones, Sally the dispatcher.
Not the police but a regular character: Angela Potts, Sheriff Jones’ former schoolteacher.

Overview:  The sheriff is sent to a fake call to get him away from the jail, where young Jeffy Barrow was currently a guest.
Crime Scene:  The sheriff’s office.
Clues:  The man who made the call identified himself as “Joe Smith”.    He might as well have said Joe Blow.  Joe called for police saying there was a fight on his front lawn.  When asked his address Joe noted that the movie theater located at 216 Oakwood Drive was right across from his house which was 218 Oakwood Drive.  This is not the way lots are numbered in the United States.  (For our UK fans the lots are numbered odd on one side and even on the other.) Joe also told the sheriff to turn right at the light and go straight to reach his property.  The street the sheriff’s office is located on runs east and west and has a stop light at either end.
Red Herrings:  There really are no red herrings in a Sheriff Jones/Angela Potts story.  She always figures it out before the sheriff does.

Solution:  Jeffy’s father made the call to get the sheriff away from the jail so he could break his son out.  Angela Potts realized Joe was giving directions as if he could see which way the cruiser was parked, and also that the house number was wonky.

My two cents:   First let me say that author John Floyd has sold 50 stories to Woman’s World magazine.  His Sheriff Jones/Angela Potts stories are popular.  With that said I will comment that this was not one of John’s stronger stories.  The entire first column, one-fifth of the page, had nothing to do with the mystery but was utilized to introduce us to the characters. 
     In my day job I work around cops, and I know that it is against departmental policy to allow a non-official person to ride in the front seat of a patrol car.  It is an insurance liability.  Yet Ms. Potts hops in and Sheriff Jones lets her.  This is a small town police department with only two law enforcement officers, so things are a bit lax in some areas.  Okay, I can live with that.   
     Normally the dispatcher talks to the callers and then relays the info to the officers, but in this town people call in and talk right to Sheriff Jones, which tells me  that Sheriff Jones knows his town and its citizens.  He should have known there was no “Joe Smith” residence across from the theater.   In addition, we have caller ID on our phones now.  The dispatcher should have been able to see who was actually calling.

Votes:  1 - figured it out
               2 - delightful
               1 - so-so


John Floyd said...

Jody, thanks for your analysis of my story. Sorry parts of it didn't work for you--I'll try to do better in the future! (I should add that this time WW didn't make any changes to it at all, so any errors are--darn it--my own fault.)

By the way, I think the sheriff once told Angela it was against departmental policy to ride up front with him, and he wound up having to write "I will not talk back to my teacher" a hundred times on his office blackboard" . . .


Jody E. Lebel said...

John, you're a gentleman... and cute as a button, too. I look forward to slicing and mean critiquing your next 50 stories.
Thanks for stopping by.

PS Yes, please try to get Mrs. Potts under control :)

Rebecca Forster said...

Josie, what a great dissection! The only thing harder than writing a mystery or suspense novel is writing a mystery/suspense short story. I'm going to apply your critiques to my own work to make sure my novels hold up against the Jody Lebel eye! Congrats on a fantastic blog, your great books (adored Playing Dead), and now short stories.

Jody E. Lebel said...

Rebecca, thanks for stopping by. John was a good sport. I'll let him have first crack when I get a mystery published in WW.

I really enjoy your books. I get inspiration from them when I write my 'shorts'. Can I steal your plots? lol.

Look forward to attending the movie premier when one of your books goes Hollywood. :)