Title: Bad business
By Author: Elizabeth Hawn
Tag line: It would take good, old-fashioned detective work to find out who’s stolen the antique set…
Police characters: Police Officers Jim Taylor and Kate Lawson
The gist: Someone stole an antique tea set from out of Anna’s Antiques. It was on display in her shop. At 8:30 that morning as she came to work Anna spotted a broken window and called 911. She had let her security contract expire which meant no alarms were active. She had purchased the tea set yesterday at an estate sale and had put it in the storage room. Her two employees, Laura and Dennis, went in that room to look at the purchase. At 4:30 Anna asked Laura to polish the set. She also sent Dennis out at that moment to pick up some furniture she had also purchased that day. She told Dennis to just keep the furniture in his van and bring it in the next day because it was late. After Laura left work at 5:00, Anna decided to put the silver set on display because it looked so nice. The next morning the employees arrived to find the police there. Laura had an older model car, and Dennis had a van. Both Laura and Dennis told police they had keys to the store and they both knew about the non-working burglar alarm. Laura admitted that her hours had recently been cut and that she was looking for a new job. She said that Anna claimed to have money problems, but didn’t seem to mind spending lots of money at the estate sale. Dennis complained that Anna didn’t know how to run a business; she spent too much money, didn’t mark the merchandise up properly, didn’t advertise on-line, and that in his opinion a good alarm system is essential. He added that she should never have left the silver on display overnight.
Crime scene: Anna’s Antique store.
Clues: Who was where at what time and what they said about their whereabouts and the burglary.
Suspects: The two employees, Laura and Dennis.
Red herrings: Laura was unhappy with her hours and was looking for another job.
Solution: Dennis indicated he left the shop at 4:30 to pick up furniture which he kept overnight. So how did he know the tea set was in display that night? He used his key to come into the shop then broke the window to divert suspicion.
My two cents: I thought the clues were subtle and spaced far enough apart so they weren’t in-your-face apparent. The author wrote that not only did Laura have her hours cut and was looking for a new job, but that she had an older car making you think there might be a money problem there. Nice red herring. The only thing missing is this story is a motive. Most of us at some time in our working lives have thought that we knew more than our boss and could do a better job. That makes us human, but it doesn’t make us crooks.