Friday, April 26, 2013

Title: In hot water
By Author Tracie Rae Griffin

Appearing in issue #18, May 6, 2013
For sale date:  April 24, 2013

Tag line:  Detective Kay arrived on the scene and wondered: Was this a slip-and-fall accident?  Or was it murder?
Police characters: Detective Christine Kay, Sgt. Bill Morgan

The gist:  A man is found dead in his home.  He is in his swim trunks by his hot tub. It appeared to Det. Kay that the victim was pushed, fell backwards, and hit his head causing a fatal blow to the skull.   Sgt. Morgan knows the victim.  His name is Joe and he’s partners with Pete at Two Guys Plumbing.  As Sgt. Morgan is examining the crime scene he finds a blue button near the body.  The police go over to Pete’s house to question him and find that he is wearing a shirt with a button missing.  Pete denies being at Joe’s house today.  Then when pressed he admits he was there but when he saw the dead body he ran because he has a past criminal record.  He said he went to Joe’s to talk business, Joe didn’t answer the door but Pete could hear the hot tub on so he went to the window to peek in.  He claimed the window was steamed up so he cleared a spot to see in. When he saw Joe on the floor, Pete kicked the door in and ran inside but Joe was already dead, so he fled.
Crime scene:  Joe’s home. 

Clues:  The hot tub is on and bubbling.  A small, blue button is found near the body.  The door leading in is smashed in.  A neighbor woman, who said there’s been three burglaries in the area lately, heard the crash of the breaking door, looked out, and saw what she thought might be a van leaving the area so she called the police.  Two Guys Plumbing uses blue vans.  
Suspects:  As the police return to their car they hear dispatch report a burglary close by.  Sgt. Morgan wonders if Joe was the victim of a burglary gone bad.

Red herrings:  The rash of burglaries in the neighborhood.
Solution:  Pete said he had wiped steam from the window to peek in…but steam doesn’t build up on the outside of the window.  Pete was lying.  He had been embezzling money and when Joe threatened to call the police, the men argued, Pete pushed Joe who fell and hit his head.

My two cents:  This all works.   By not having the neighbor be able to positively ID the van that drove away the reader was left wondering.  Pete had a good excuse for breaking the door in and for not reporting the death.  He also could have lost his button when he was checking out Joe on the floor.  All circumstantial...until he made the one error about wiping away the steam off the window.  This is a solid story that had good clues, a red herring, and was well written.

  He got caught by a little old lady…heh heh.  WW loves little old ladies… :)

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