Saturday, May 4, 2013

Title: Recipe for murder
By Author Clare Mishica

Appearing in issue #19,  May 13, 2013
For sale date: May 3, 2013

Tag line:  Ingrid Walthrop had cooked up a story to cover her murderous tracks.  Unfortunately, she left out an important ingredient.
Police characters:  Det. Elliott Mead
The gist:   Ingrid's husband was suspicious of her activities and if he found out what she was doing it would make her prenuptial agreement void.  (The author never specified what those activities were.  She left that up to the reader's imagination.)  She decided she would rather be a rich widow than a poor divorcee.  Edward came home one rainy day with a bag of groceries and placed them on the table. At that moment Ingrid struck him from behind with a stone vase.  She cleaned and bleached the vase.  Ingrid took the full grocery bag, stood in the doorway and enacted his 'fall' scattering the groceries.  She then dragged his body over to the door and positioned it to look like he had taken the fall, cleaned up the drops of blood on the floor where she had clobbered him, and called 911.   When asked if her husband did his own shopping, the grieving widow told police that her husband loved to cook and he was going to try a new cake recipe today. 
Crime scene:  Their home.
Clues:  Edward always wore smooth sole loafers that were slippery in the rain.  He had recently twisted his ankle because of those shoes and had been treated for it.  When the body was removed there was a puddle of blood under his head, a few scuff marks, and a small packet of vanilla beans.  The victims pant legs were wet from the weather and the soles of his shoes were slick.  The ME advised that it appeared the victim died as a result of the impact of his head hitting the marble floor.
Suspects:  None.  This was a staged accident.
Red herrings:   None.  The author walked us through the story from the wife's eyes.  We knew within two sentences that she had killed him.
Solution:  When the victim was removed there was a packet of vanilla beans underneath the body.  Ingrid had accidentally dragged them beneath Edward's body when she was setting the scene so she couldn't see her mistake.
My two cents:   This was presented in an interesting way that we haven't seen before.  We knew who the killer was from the get-go; it was just a matter of 'will she get away with it or not'.   Supposedly her mentioning the fact that Edward was going to bake a cake today made the detective realize there were vanilla beans under the body.    My only form of editing on this piece is  I would have left out the baking the cake element as  it shouldn't matter what the grocery product was under the body, that is a clue the detective should have picked up on the minute he saw it.  


Zadie Sher said...

Thought this mystery a cut above most, but I, too, wondered why she was so specific re the cake baking. Maybe, though, because she was so specific, the detective's attention was particularly called to the vanilla beans.

Nevertheless, think he should have said something like "I guess the vanilla beans were for the cake." and then told her she was under arrest, instead of switching pov into the detective's head in that last paragraph.

Also, wonder why she didn't include vanilla beans in the list of groceries instead of just "small packets from the shop's bulk department." I immediately thought there was something fishy about the "small packets." Rather awkward wording too. Maybe Johnene. . . ?

Jody E. Lebel said...


I don't know what country the author is from but here in the US we use vanilla extract in liquid form for cakes. We also don't use the phrase 'bulk department'. There were some odd phrases now that you mention it. I wonder why Johnene didn't change those as WW is not published overseas. Curious. I liked your choice of words for the last paragraph.

Rebecca Harmon said...

I wondered about this one, too. I wasn't sure I liked it - but I didn't activle DISlike it; just kind of left me "meh".