Friday, December 13, 2013

Appearing in issue #50, December 16, 2013

Title:  Cookie calamity
By Author:  Kendra Yoder

Tag line:  The annual cookie exchange was a fun tradition – until someone got a murderously nutty idea!

Police characters:  Sheriff Francine Perry

The gist:  All these women work in the same office.  Every year they have a Christmas cookie exchange.  Three women participated and the director of sales, Nita, brought the milk, as she always does.  One woman, Jean, was highly allergic to nuts and everyone knew about it.  Jean was found dead on the floor in her office due to anaphylactic shock, a reaction to nuts.  On her desk was a plate with cookie crumbs and an empty glass of milk.  Employee #1,  Sophia,  made snickerdoodles, no nuts.  She said she liked Jean and that Jean was a hard worker and a favorite of the company executives.  Employee  #2, Ernie, had brought in ginger snaps.  He giggled “you’d never put nuts in gingersnaps.”  He said he and Jean bickered occasionally and that Jean was ambitious and would do anything to get ahead.  Employee #3, Martha, who was playing solitaire on her office computer when the police went to question her, said she brought lemon squares.  She said they were not friends, but not enemies either.  She had heard a rumor that Jean was up for a very big promotion. 

Crime scene:  Jean’s office. 

Clues:  She was up for a big promotion.  She was allergic to nuts.

Suspects:   The three cookie makers and the one who brought the milk. 

Red herrings:  None. 

Solution:   Nita was the killer.  The nuts were in the milk.  Lab results showed that it contained pure almond extract.  If promoted Jean would have taken Nita’s job. 

My two cents: 

My Big problem with this story is the method.

According to McCormick, which is the manufacturer that makes almond extract, there are NO NUTS OF ANY KIND in Almond extract. It is a made-up flavor made from the pit of a fruit called bitter nut and also from the kernels of peach or apricot pits.   Pure almond extract has a very strong and bitter taste.  If the extract were in everyone’s milk, they would surely taste it.  If she only put it in Jean’s milk, unless Jean glugged her drink, she would smell it when she raised the glass under her nose.  If she put in such a minute amount that Jean wouldn’t be able to smell it, it wouldn’t matter anyway…there are no nut products in it.
A severe reaction to nuts is called anaphylaxis and can be life-threatening.  Symptoms often start quickly, within an hour of coming into contact with a nut, but sometimes within minutes. So it is not an immediate drop-on-the-floor death.  The person will know right away that they have come into contact with a nut or nut product.  Individuals allergic to nuts to the point that death could result, always carry an auto-injector with them at all times.  

If you’re going to kill somebody…do some research.  Make sure the method will work. Talk about a calamity.  But still…this got by TWO WW editors. 

My second problem with this story is that we were not told that Jean’s upcoming promotion was going to affect anyone else in the company.  That was just out of the blue.  Sort of thrown in in the solution.  

My last two comments.  Men don’t giggle, children giggle.   How cold is Martha that she’s playing solitaire on her computer while someone from her company, someone she knew, lies dead on the floor in the other room?  Geez.  Now if it were Sugar Crush….  :)

Also notice the Rule of 3 was used here again.   WW seems to love 3 suspects. 


Tamara said...

I didn't pick up during my reading of this story that the almond in the milk was mentioned prior to presenting it in the solution. (Also, this is my second time posting this comment; the first one didn't take, even though I looked at it on the board.)

Jody E. Lebel said...

No, the almond was not mentioned in the stoy. The author concentratd on the oookies to throw us off. Just like Jean's promotion would have caused problems was not revealed until the solution.

On occassion I have problems with Blogger posting comments. That's out of my control. Most of the time it works fine...and it is a free site so I go along with the flow...

Tamara said...

That's so interesting, because I just had a story rejected because the clue wasn't mentioned. I got a short dissertation from Johnene about how that is required so that the discerning reader can observe it. Anyone else have that experience?

Chris said...

While almond food 'flavouring' may not have even a passing acquaintance with the nut, almond extract is exactly that, the real deal. The author did use the word extract in the solution rather than flavouring. It's very strong smelling, though, meaning the person drinking the milk would certainly have smelled almonds and shied away from it if they were allergic. It wasn't as if the glass was barely touched, it had been drained, so that part didn't ring true for me.

Other than that, I thought the author did a pretty good job of throwing us off the scent of the murderer by focussing on the three cookie-bringers. I hadn't even factored the milk into the equation. The title helped with that, too, mentioning cookies so that biscuits are in the reader's mind before the story even begins.

majbooks said...

@Tamara, Yes! I had a note too, saying that the clue must be "hidden" but actually in the story somewhere. I have one out now that I made a point of doing just that. We'll see how that works out...
--Mary Ann

Anonymous said...

I got the answer at the part where it is said that on jean's table a glass if milk was found. Haha I suck and I know that...

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Anonymous Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad to see someone reading over the older stories. The glass of milk was the clue but it wasn't in your face. We were concentrating so much on the cookies, we skipped the milk. Rather clever of the author even though the method really wouldn't have worked.