Friday, July 5, 2013

Issue #28, July 15, 2013

Title: Eyes wide open
By Author: Richard Jones

Tag line:  The rookie detective’s attention to detail helped her figure out who had a murderous grudge against Charles Higgins!  (Anybody know why that exclamation point is there?  I don’t.)

Police characters: Detective Matt Howell and rookie Detective Amy Tedesco

The gist:  The employer, Mr. Higgins, is found stabbed to death in his study.  His male private secretary called 911.  When the police arrive he tells them that Mr. Higgins has been stabbed and that he (secretary) did not enter the room but saw all the blood and knew he must be dead.  The secretary claimed he arrived at 8:00 AM as usual and finding no daily schedule on his desk went to look for Mr. Higgins and found the body lying face down on the floor. There was no sign of a break-in, but the study was in disarray.  The only people who had keys to the house beside the secretary were the two sons.  Both worked for Mr. Higgins, but son Graham was absent a lot and just had had an argument with his father about it.  Son Gordon was seen in the study with his father last night around 9:00 PM.  The medical examiner estimated the time to death to be about two hours prior.  The medical examiner had to peer beneath the body to see the weapon (a letter opener). 

Crime scene:  Mr. Higgins’ study.

Clues:  It was not a robbery.  There was no break-in.  The medical examiner had to move the body to see the stab wounds. 

Suspects:  Both sons and the secretary.

Red herring:  Graham had argued with his father.

Solution:  Rookie Amy remembered the secretary said he didn’t enter the room when he found the body.  Higgins was lying face down. How could the secretary know that Higgins had been stabbed when he couldn’t see the wound?  During questioning the secretary admitted he had been embezzling money and when confronted he had killed his employer. 

My two cents:  Twice in this story the veteran detective told the rookie to keep her eyes wide open.  That was also the title.  Rather contrived but at least it didn’t give the solution away.

Okay, there are a couple of things.  If you find a bloody mess and your boss of nine years is lying still on the floor, you don’t go see if maybe he’s still alive?  Lots of blood doesn’t mean death.  Ever had a bloody nose?  It seems like gallons of blood goes everywhere.   I could understand being afraid and being grossed out but wouldn’t you check for a pulse at least?   To me that made the secretary suspicious.   We have read so many stories that use the same solution; the killer couldn’t have seen or known something.  Not going to check on your boss, to me, was a good indication of guilt and would have been a better, more fresh, clue. 

 There was no mention of blood, or lack of it, on the secretary.  We have to assume he cleaned up before he called the police.  When you stab someone, you make a mess and are most likely to get splatter on yourself.  Although killers don’t always think things through, if he had gone over to the body to check him, and stepped in some blood or got some on his clothing as he bent over the body or rolled him over to take a better look, it would be a good reason for him to have blood on his person.   Just thinking ahead to the


Chris said...

Yes, I also baulked at the idea that a loyal secretary, on seeing his boss lying on the study floor in a pool of blood, would just stand in the doorway thinking ahead to it being a crime scene. It immediately stuck a big red arrow over his head in my mind. I also felt that the other two suspects could have been brought in a few paragraphs earlier to give us more time to think about their possible guilt. Still, it was a solid story and the ending made sense, which is always a plus.

Your aversion to exclamation marks is getting as bad as my aversion to stray apostrophes, Jody. But you have really just replaced them with all these texty LOL things, or little images made of punctuation :-) Any of these humour devices aren't a problem for me as long as they're not overused.

Jody E. Lebel said...

Chris, yes, I hate !!!. Very few times have I ever seen one that makes sense. I think of breathy, gushing excitement or horror when I see one and the sentence never is breathy or gushing or exciting. But it usually is horrible. --> lol <--

Mary Jo said...

When DicK Jones told me the butler--I mean, the secretary did it, I said, "Huh?" I thought he was just a device to announce the man's demise. Of course, the detective did not bother to ask him, "What gave you the clue he was dead?" Well, what do I know?

By the way, I hate LOL's and will never use one. I have a cousin who litters her communications with LOL and she doesn't even text. I see it get heavy use in Kate's blog. I have been known to use an exclamation point now and then, though. As in WooHoo!!

Chris, a stray apostrophe? What's that?

Jody E. Lebel said...

Mary Jo, I hear you on the lols. They can be overdone. It's really hard to tell if someone is being mean, snarky, funny, light hearted, serious, etc when they write something. You can't hear their tone or see their facial expression. For example if I wrote to someone, "Wow, you write like my grandmother." I mean what does that really mean? To be sure and let the person know I'm teasing or saying it in a light-hearted way and not being a bitch, I throw in an lol or a smiley face. Of course sometimes people throw in an lol on purpose after saying something mean so they can get their hit across and not look like a bad person to the rest of the world. Gotta watch those people. We have a few on our blogs.

I think woohoo! is probably the only time I wouldn't mind an exclamation point, but you don't see woohoo too often in novels. More likely it will be "John! What are you doing! Can't you see I'm busy!" Then I want to hurt somebody.

Mary Jo said...

Okay, Jody, but when I see that lol after what appears to be a cutting remark by someone, I think, Yeah, right. My friend Roy is a trained semanticist and he says words don't mean anything. For just the reason you have mentioned. We keep trying to create our word pictures, though.

I think these little "mysteries" are so hard to write, I give credit to anyone who can do it.

Chris said...

Stray apostrophes are those that appear where they shouldn't, Mary Jo - worse offenders are grocers'/butchers' advertising boards, where you'll see such abominations as 'Apple's, $1 kilo', or 'Today's Special, Lamb chop's'. ARRRGH! (And I use THAT screamer advisedly, Jody). I am always tempted to take out a tissue and wipe the offending little b*****r away. Apostrophes have two uses; to denote possession and to mark a missing letter. That's it, nothing more. There, I feel much better now.

Mary Jo said...

Chris, do they actually do that? Also, I notice that you use a single quotation mark. I first noticed it in the little Harlequin romances (Mills and Boone) of yesteryear. Here, as you may have noted, we use the double quote marks.

Jody E. Lebel said...

Mary Jo, I just saw a rather large expensive sign from a Texas store that read:

Tattoo's and Body Piercing

They're everywhere...

Chris said...

Mary Jo, generally I use double quotes for speech, and singles for quoting titles or secondary reported speech within a character's own speech (if that makes sense).

Mary Jo said...

Yes, the American punctuation rule is the same for quotations: double for the original speech and single for a quotation within the original. I thought it was the opposite in the British rules, though. It took me a while to get used to putting only one space between sentences. I learned the keyboard in the days of the typewriter, and for some reason there was always a double space between sentences.

Jody E. Lebel said...

Mary Jo,

Me too on the double spaces between words. I can tell you why. Back in the days of the old typewriters each key stroke used the same amount of space. An "i" used the same space as an "m" even tho it was a smaller sized letter. Go look at some old typing. It's interesting to see how odd it looks compared to today's smooth printing. So we put two spaces between sentences fir ease of reading. Nowadays computers space out the letters in the words so that they look even regardless of letter size, so no need to add that extra space. But it's a hard habit to break. In fact, I just did it in the above paragraph without even realizing it until I went back and looked.

Mary Jo said...

Oh, yes, you are right, Jody. For some reason I did not think of that, or if I ever knew it, I had forgotten. Once I got the hang of the single space, it just came naturally. Is that teaching an old dog new tricks?

Thanks to your help, I have submitted my mystery story to WW. We will see what, if anything, happens. You know how frustrated I got. This is probably my first and last mystery, including the other practice one. They are too hard to write.