Friday, April 12, 2013

Title: The Missing Link
By Author Tracie Rae Griffith

Appearing in issue #16, April 22, 2013
For sale date: April 10, 2013

Tag line:  Trying to figure out who’d committed the burglaries was driving the detectives crazy!
Police characters: Det. Kristine Kay, Sgt. Det. Bill Morgan

The gist:  Ms. Dawson had gone to a doctor’s appointment. When she returned home she found her front door ajar and jewelry and $200 cash missing.  Det. Morgan examined the door and concluded that it had been jimmied.  The victim noted that her bad luck was coming in threes as her car had to go to the shop, her doctor told her she needed surgery, and now she had been burgled.
No sooner did the police begin to drive away but they got a call that another burglary had taken place.   This victim, Mr. Baker, had been attending a wedding during the afternoon and when he returned home he found his door ajar and his pocket watch collection missing.  Mr. Baker noticed a delivery van in front of his house before he left for the wedding.  He said he had had a few drinks at the wedding, but he was sure he locked the front door.  He told the police not to worry; he hadn’t been driving, but had taken a cab.

The next day the police received a third call from the same neighborhood.  This time Mrs. Dell reported she had gone to her hairdresser’s and returned to find her door broken into and her jewelry and late husband’s coin collection missing.  Ms. Dell was fuming, telling the police that her car had been stolen a week ago and it still hadn’t been found. 
Crime scene:  Three homes in a senior community. 

Clues:  Back at the station Det. Kay noted that the perp took only small items, no TVs or computers; that the targets were all in one senior community; and that the burglaries occurred within a 2-day time frame.  The first victim went to the doctor’s, the second went to a wedding, and the third went to the hair salon.  All three victims had car problems.
Suspects:  A delivery van guy.

Red herrings:   The delivery van guy.
Solution:  The cab driver who picked them up drove them to their destinations, then circled back and robbed them knowing they would be out.

My two cents:  This story works.  It makes sense and it is paced out well.  We were told about the car problems in different ways so we didn’t immediately think of the cab driver. 
My only comments are on the accuracy of the wording.  In order for a robbery to take place a victim must be present.  These houses were burglarized.  When the second call came in Det. Kay said, “Another robbery, let’s go.”  She’s a cop.  She knows the difference.  She would have said burglary.  (Mrs. Dawson said it correctly.)

 Also Det. Morgan examined the locks and pronounced they had been jimmied.  To jimmy a lock you take a small pick and insert it into the hole and manipulate the tumblers the way the key does.  There is no way you can tell that a lock had been jimmied from looking at the outside of it, any more than you could tell if someone had slipped a duplicate key into it.  Perhaps the door jamb should have been broken with some kind of sharp object, like a screwdriver. 
In the real world crime scene would have dusted those doors and locks for prints, and since all cabbies are fingerprinted they would have gotten their man… but in WW stories we only have about 700 words to get the story out.   And in a WW story we want the detectives to figure it out before they get the lab results back.  Of course we love that the female detective figures it out before the sergeant does.

No comments: