Friday, November 29, 2013

Appearing in issue #48, December 2, 2013

Title: The listener
By Author:  John M. Floyd

Tag line:  Sharp-eared Angela Potts just sat there…waiting for the suspect to misspeak. The question is: Would he?

Police characters:  Sheriff Chunky Jones and school teacher Angela Potts

The gist:  While Sheriff Jones was at the dentist dispatch got a call that a woman had seen a man in a white t-shirt and jeans sneaking out of neighbor’s house.  She reported the man was heading east into Heritage Park.  Deputy Prewitt was near that location, so he headed over to the park and spotted Jack Nelson coming out of the park on the west side.  Jack claimed he had nothing to do with the crime and had never been to that guy’s house before. Cash and jewelry were stolen, but Jack didn’t have anything on him when he was picked up.  Jack says he’s out of work and was just hanging around the park.  Jack told Sheriff Jones that Deputy Prewitt had picked him up and taken him back to the house that had been robbed.  The owner of the home said he had never seen Jack before, but of course, the house had been burgled when the owner was out.  Jack told the cop: You think I’m the only guy in town wearing a white t-shirt and Jeans?  He also said: How do you think I got rid of the goods?  Hid them somewhere?
Mrs. Potts knew he did it because he said the wrong thing.  

At the end of the story Jack admits to the theft and told the police he had stashed the loot in the park in a storm drain.

Crime scene:  Burglary of a dwelling.

Clues:  White t-shirt and jeans. (This was the obvious clue.  Turns out it's not the clue at all.)

Suspects:  Only one, Jack Nelson, the only guy around with a white t-shirt and jeans. 

Red herrings:  None.

Solution:  Jack said Deputy Prewitt took him ‘back’ to the burgled house. If he’d never been there before, how could he go back?

My two cents:  I thought the story progressed well enough.  Mrs. Potts wasn’t snarky to Jones, which is a bonus.  I got a bit confused on the ‘he was headed east into the park’ but yet he was picked up coming out of the park on the west side.  I’m not sure we needed the east/west thing.  He could have been headed toward to the park…and then he was seen leaving the park.  I figured that was a clue, but I couldn’t figure it out.  It wasn’t a clue.   I also thought I had the clue when Jack said he wasn’t the only guy in town wearing a white t-shirt and jeans.  No one had mentioned that fact to him.  But that wasn’t a clue either.  I completely missed the real clue because it’s a non-clue to me.  Stating that the deputy picked him up and they headed back to the scene of the crime doesn’t imply guilt to me.  It implies that the police were there earlier and now they're headed back again, this time for a show-up identification.  

"How do you think I got rid of the goods?  Hid them somewhere?"  I thought this was a dumb thing for him to say.  I'm positive it crossed their minds that this guy might have stashed the loot before they got to him.  Why would the bad guy even hint of that, or plant that idea in their minds when that's exactly what he did?


Mary Jo said...

Jody, my thoughts were the same as yours, as I told Chris when I emailed the story to her in the UK a week or two ago. It seems that Mr. Floyd has a lock on the sale of WW mysteries. I guess we can learn from him simply by the faults we see there.

Chris said...

Mrs Potts sitting in on the police interview and the culprit's sudden confession were both unlikely but no more so than we see on Murder She Wrote and suchlike. I was happy to suspend disbelief and enjoy the story until I reached the solution. After the intriguing set-up of Mrs Potts saying, 'I listen to see if you say something wrong', I scoured the story in search of that mysterious clue. It wasn't there. Being taken 'back to the house' is not an incriminating thing to say. We go 'back to the house' after funerals, or get invited 'back for a coffee' by friends, even if we've never been there before. Sorry, but for me that was a non-clue. %¬{