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.