Friday, February 21, 2014

Appearing in issue #8, February 24, 2014

Title:  Over a cliff

By Author:  Jean A. Davidson


Tag line:   Someone had been in a big hurry to get rid of Randolph Dunlop.  Question was, who?

Police characters:  Detective Josh Adams and Detective Tony Donato.

The gist:   The story starts out with the detectives watching the funeral of a millionaire, Dunlop, who had died a week earlier of a car crash where he lost control of his vehicle and careened over a cliff.  The police knew, but not the public, that someone had cut Dunlop’s brake lines. At the end of the funeral service three people remained, Dunlop’s second wife Carolyn who was almost as young as Dunlop’s daughter, his daughter Victoria who did not get along with her step-mom, and Carolyn’s brother, Fred, who lost a fortune taking the advice of Dunlop.  After Dunlop had married, he changed his will cutting out his daughter and leaving it all to his new wife.  After the funeral the detectives met with the three relatives and announced that it was not an accident that killed Dunlop and that someone has sabotaged this car.  Victoria pointed a finger at the new wife, calling her a greedy gold digger.  The new wife accused the daughter because she was angry that dad had changed his will. She added that Victoria’s boyfriend knew all about cars and that if anyone tampered with the brakes it was him.  Then Victoria turned on Fred, claiming he must have done it because he was angry about losing all his money.  Fred told the police he had heard Victoria yelling “I wish you were dead” to her father the day before he died.  Victoria denied saying that.   Detective Adams received a cell phone call from the police department saying that they had found a fingerprint on the car in an unusual spot and he now knows who did it.

Crime scene:   Tampered car.

Clues:   A fingerprint in an odd spot. 

Suspects:  The 3 relatives.  (WW loves three suspects.)

Red herrings:   The changed will.  The lost fortune.  The daughter wishing her dad was dead.

Solution:  The new wife did it.  Even before her fingerprint was found she gave herself away by accusing Victoria of tampering with the brakes, a tidbit of info no one else knew except the police.  She said she killed him before he could change his will back to his daughter.

My two cents:    Question was, who?”  Well, duh.  Extremely uninspiring, unimaginative tag line.  The killer gave herself away by knowing a fact that only the perp would know.  ((yawn))  Once you read that you might as well not even read the rest of the story.  Why can’t we have some fun, imaginative, interesting, makes-you-think kind of clues?  We really don’t need two detectives now, do we? 


Chris said...

The moment the words left the wife's mouth the solution was obvious. From then on it was just a matter of seeing how quickly they would put two and two together. An okay story but unfortunately no surprises.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Chris. Yep. I agree. I think the reading public at large and the readership of WW in particular are sharper than the readers that the editors currently cater to. Over the years movies have changed. Books changed. How news is reported has changed. All forms of media must evolve and keep up with the demand of the times we live in. I think the style of these mysteries are still in the 50s-60s. And I find it difficult to write 'backwards'. There...that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

Mary Jo said...

It does seem unfortunate that the Bauer company still views the American woman in the mode of June Cleaver and Donna Reed. Even with the very short format, there is no reason why the stories they choose to print cannot be more imaginative. I would not be so critical if there were a wider market, but they appear to be the only game in town.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Mary Jo. The argument has been made to me that true crime mags only take gritty crime stories, and to lament that they should accept a different format (say cozies) that is not in keeping with their theme is a waste of time. I think the same can be said of WW. They want what they want. We either write it or we pitch our stories elsewhere. I just wish 'elsewhere' paid as well.

Chris said...

I read this grumble (not just relating to WW but to many mags) so often it's getting like a cracked record. Like many other magazines, WW have their style and it's what their readers have come to expect. Rocking the boat by suddenly introducing new types of fiction, or different styles of article, could lose them their core readers, so it's done only with the greatest care. We have to work to their remit if we want to makes sales and wishing it were otherwise is a waste of energy. At least you know their needs inside out - that's a bonus, surely?

The pay offered by WW is unusual and, yes, it's great if you can get it, but don't let it stop you from going elsewhere. Up your game and submit some of those little gems that WW, for whatever reason, didn't go for, and you could still get your $800, but from from half a dozen mags instead of one. Think laterally, ladies. (And yes, I know you are already doing that, but do it MORE!)

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Chris. Plus I like having more than one iron in the fire. Every day there's a possibility I'll hear from one of a dozen places I have submitted a story to.

Chris said...

My feelings exactly, Jody. The more the merrier.