Friday, July 19, 2013

Appearing in issue #30, July 29, 2013

Title: Another crime undone
By Author: S. Furlong-Bolliger 

Tag line:  Detective Dunn may have retired but he hadn’t stopped working! 

Police characters: Retired Detective Charlie Dunn, Officer Tony Willmot, and Officer Jake Taylor.

The gist:  Retired Detective Dunn heard the call on his police scanner and arrives on the scene just as Willmot and Taylor are about to put cuffs on the suspect, Tim, for the stabbing murder of his employer Calvin Lewis.  Lewis was a friend of Dunn’s and Dunn had gotten Tim the job there. Tim is an ex-con that Det. Dunn believed in and gave a chance to.  The police say they found Tim holding the bloody murder weapon (a letter opener) and fleeing the scene.  Tim claims he was going towards the den to ask his boss for a raise when he saw the letter opener on the floor.  He didn’t notice it had blood on it and picked it up to return it.  When he walked in he found the man dead on the floor.  Panicking because of his past record, Tim started to run away from the scene.  Tim was fingered by the housekeeper, Ms. Hudson who said a valuable ring was missing.   When questioned by Dunn, the housekeeper said “I saw Tim running from Mr. Lewis’s den with a letter opener in his hand.  He must have used it to stab Mr. Lewis in the back before taking the ring.  I’ll never forget Mr. Lewis lying there staring up with lifeless eyes and clutching his wife’s empty ring box to his heart.”  (Mr. Lewis had been waiting for a jewelry appraiser as he was going to sell his late wife’s valuable ring.)

Crime scene:  Mr. Lewis’s den.

Clues:  He was stabbed in the back.  He was clutching an empty ring box.

Suspects:  Tim or the housekeeper.

Red herrings:  The fact that Tim was an ex-con. 

Solution: The housekeeper gave herself away.  She said Mr. Lewis was stabbed in the back but how did she know that if she found him lying on his back? Secondly, she claimed Mr. Lewis was clutching an empty ring box.  How would she know it was empty unless she had taken the ring herself?   

My two cents:  You’ll have to forgive me; I’m a little woozy from the déjà vu.  Didn’t we just go through this exact same ‘couldn’t have seen it was a stab in the back’ solution just two stories ago?  The slip of the tongue about the empty ring box should have been enough to question the housekeeper further.  

It was said that the housekeeper saw Tim fleeing the scene, yet there he was standing between two cops about to be handcuffed.  Either he fled or he didn’t.   He could have been 30 miles away from there by the time the housekeeper called the police and they arrived.  But nope, he was still there…fleeing…very, very slowly apparently.

There was a lot of character building of retired Det. Dunn in this story that I didn’t include in my summary above.  They call him Charlie “Not-Dunn-Yet” because he wouldn’t give up until a case was solved.  Several times it was mentioned that ‘he’s not Dunn yet’ or “he’s never Dunn”.   It was cute but maybe a tad overdone.  I would have preferred that the author concentrate on a more interesting, less trite, solution.


Tamara said...

Jody, do you do movie or book reviews? Some of your comments are really funny.

Jody E. Lebel said...

No, I don't do movie reviews. I do post reviews on books I've read on Amazon, Goodreads sometimes, and B&N but not too often. Frankly, if someone asks me for a review and I don't like their book, I just gently decline. I won't write them a bad review. It takes a LOT of work/time/effort to get a book to market and for that alone I give them credit.

Now, contests? That's another story. I do judge a lot of writing contests. I always try to find something good to say, some encouraging words, but if it's really bad...I have to lay it out for them. That's really what they paid their money for. But I do that gently also. I'll say, now, don't get upset with all the red editing you're going to see...go get a cup of tea...come back and sit down and really look at what I'm telling you here.

On this blog the reader gets the good, the bad, and feels the sting when I slice the story up. I'm waiting for the day when I get a mystery in WW. You know there's going to be some serious payback coming my way no matter how good/bad the story is. lol But I can take as good as I give.

Tamara said...

If I ever get another mystery, you can give me hell. My mysteries are not so good. I do much better with the romances, which is interesting because I published a book about a true crime and I really like mystery stories. I bet yours are good -- maybe too good for WW.

Mary Jo said...

I think these WW mysteries are extremely difficult to write and make everything fit within the 700 word limit. With Jody's help I did put one together recently and sent it to WW, but it is a long wait to see what becomes of it.

In the Dunn story, the editors really should have waited longer to publish a story with the same BIG CLUE. It hit me over the head, too, Jody. As for the ring box clue, I didn't get it because I assumed the box was open and obviously empty.

Jody E. Lebel said...

Mary Jo and Tamara,

My fear...not really a fear, more like a premonition ... is that WW will eventually buy one of my stories (that you KNOW will be accurate) and then Johnene will chop the heck out of it.

Tamara, I'd like to take a peek at your true crime book. What's the name of it?

Mary Jo said...

Jody, I don't see how Johnene can chop up a mystery when it must fit together like a puzzle. Remove or change one essential piece and the whole thing falls apart. The Romances are a different matter and she can really get surgical with those. It amazes me that the writers are all right with that, shrugging it off as a sale is a sale. I think a good editor is a treasure and mutual respect is essential.

Chris said...

This was a solid story for me and I liked that Det Dunn stuck up for his protégé, instead of being disappointed that he'd reverted to his old ways. It wasn't the author's fault but I did do a double-take at the knife in the back routine being used again. Surprised me that a story with the same 'clue' providing the solution was used so soon after the last one. Not great scheduling.

Like Mary Jo, I didn't get that the empty ring box was meant to be a clue because I just assumed it was open when Mrs. Hudson saw it. That was a non-clue for me.

I wasn't too fussed about Tim fleeing the scene and being caught as he did so. Police pursuits of escaping criminals make up half the cop shows we see. But assuming he WAS caught while doing so and was still holding the letter-opener, why didn't Wilmot and Taylor think to ask why he didn't still have the ring too? Surely if you're going to get rid of anything as you run away, it will the incriminating evidence, not the booty.

Still, as always, we don't know how many changes were made so it's hard to be sure how much of the original fell foul of the red editing pen. It's a shame the writers of these mysteries don't stop by and tell us now and then.

Tamara said...

Jody, it's a short book that revisits the era and the events -- no solution. Murder Gone Cold:
The Mystery of the Grimes Sisters
(2006). My last name is Shaffer.

Jody E. Lebel said...

Chris, good point about the ring. I guess he could have tossed it as he was 'fleeing', but the cops never asked him where it was or even mentioned it. Must be something that got caught up in the 700-word frenzy.

Mary Jo, I hear you about the editing. I thought my original romances were fine, if not better, than the cut up version. Johnene is editing for the 'house' and their soft style. I didn't like it, but I wasn't about to return the check over it.

Mary Jo said...

Well, I had experience of this same kind of thing years ago with another little magazine. The editing changed my story (actually, for the better) and it was no longer what I had written. The publication offered to buy another story I had already submitted. Being incredibly self-righteous, I told them if they wanted to publish my story, fine, but if they were planning to change it completely, please return it to me. It came back to me by return mail, as I am sure you can well imagine. Hey, I was young.

Jody E. Lebel said...

Mary Jo,

Ouch. Live and learn. We can definitely blame it on being inexperienced in the publishing world.

Chris said...

Double ouch. Oh, heck, don't we sometimes squirm at the clangers we dropped when we were first starting out? I sympathise, Mary Jo.

Mary Jo said...

Just part of the learning process. At the time, I think I had already had a full length story published in Seventeen magazine, when they still published fiction, and they did a beautiful job of editing. I think the story still stands up today.

My one and only romance novel was edited by Ellen Edwards, and she is one of the best. She went on to have an amazing career at Avon, as I recall.

I do recognize good editing. And bad.

Jody E. Lebel said...

Mary Jo, were published in Seventeen? That's big time. We ALL read Seventeen back in the day.

My feeling is that Johnene works for WW, and she edits for the house and their market niche. She likes to tweak it until it has the sound and feel of the WW magazine. So be it., I mean when...when my next story sells, I'll post the old vs the new so we can dissect it.

Mary Jo said...

Well, I have two stories submitted to WW now. One is the mystery you helped me with, Jody. The other is a Valentine story I sent them last year and never heard a word about. That one is "different" so I may get a resounding "This just didn't work for me." If anything.

Jody E. Lebel said...

I got this on TW today.

@JodyLebel Thanks for the honest critique. Sorry to disappoint. Hopefully I'll do better next time! S. Furlong-Bolliger

I'm going to try to get her to come on this blog and tell us what was cut, etc. Stay tuned.

susan furlong bolliger said...

Hi, everyone. Again, thanks Jody for the honest critique of my current WW story and thank you to all that took time to comment. Every time I have a story published, I ping this sight right away to see Jody's comments. Always enlightening!

Not a lot was edited from my original submission. The title and catch phrase were slightly changed as were a few of the character's names. Unfortunately, I have to take full credit for all errors in the storyline and plot! :)

I've never had any complaints about the editing my stories receive. I'm always just glad to make another sale and that this professional-paying market is available to short story writers.

Jody E. Lebel said...

Susan, thanks so much for stopping in. I'm thinking that you did so much character building with Det. Dunn that we're not Dunn seeing him in future stories. He's likable.

Sometimes the changes WW makes can alter the story a bit. I was wondering if they cut something that might give us a better time line for his 'fleeing'. Really, that was the only thing I could 'pick on' with your story. It all worked pretty well otherwise.

PS It's not your fault that WW put two mysteries so close together with the same back stab clue. That was just poor timing on their part. With that said, there's got to be some better way to twist those solutions for a fresh read. Wish I knew the secret.