Title: Murder’s all the rage
By Author: Richard Ciciarelli
Tag line: Heather had made someone very angry. Now the detective had to figure out who!
Police characters: Detective Penny Gray and Sgt. Mike Howard.
The gist: Det. Penny is called to the scene and let in the house by Sgt. Howard, who tells her the back door was open and it was his opinion that’s how the killer got in. Penny noticed the dining room was set with a lace tablecloth, china plates, and a vase of pink roses in the center. The lady of the house was lying on the kitchen floor dead, with a knife jutting from her back. Her husband told Penny that he and his wife had been having problems but tonight’s dinner was a celebration of their reconciliation. He said he even stopped on the way home at the florists to buy her her favorite pink roses, but when he came home he found her dead.
Additionally he said his wife was the school principal and just a few days ago had suspended two students for smoking in school. The fathers of the two students ‘went crazy’ and confronted her. Things got so out of hand security had to be called. The first father said his son was just offered a basketball scholarship but will now not be able to qualify because of the suspension. The second father was upset that his daughter, who had a good shot at becoming class valedictorian, was now out of the running. Both men felt the principal could have given a less harsh punishment that wouldn’t ruin the plans of their kids.
Father number one had been siding a house when the murder occurred and said the occupants were on vacation and he had no witness. The second father owned a convenience store and stated he was the only one working that day. The second father acted a bit hostile at being questioned.
It was noted that the victim’s home address was easily accessible from the phone book, and that her house backed up to a patch of woods where someone could approach unseen.
Penny knew who the killer was.
Crime scene: Principal’s home.
Clues: Pink roses in the vase.
Suspects: The husband, one or more of the two fathers, or some crazy man who came out of the woods.
Red herrings: Father #2 was acting hostile. Neither father had an alibi. The back door was open.
Solution: The husband said he stopped to buy roses and came home to find his wife dead…yet the roses were in the vase on the table. After further questioning he admitted that his wife was not interested in reconciling and was going to file for a divorce.
My two cents: Let’s start with the police, my favorite part. The sergeant wouldn’t call in a detective, who is of less rank, to work the case. They might work it together, but the story has him basically being the doorman, waiting for a ‘real’ detective to show up. The door would be manned by a uniformed officer. Perhaps they were called in together and he just got there first. But that’s not the way it reads. Okay, I’m picky about stuff like that. So sue me.
Next: the clue was revealed pretty much at the beginning of the story. Once I read it, I didn’t feel the need to read further…but I had to to do this blog. The clue wasn’t hidden well.
Next: this is just an observation on my part and doesn’t reflect on the story or the author. The two fathers, in my opinion, should have put the blame where it belonged, on their two smoking kids. Those kids messed up their opportunities, not the principal, who was following school department protocol. That the parents confronted the principal and caused a scene just shows that the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Next: There are sets of rules that each principal must follow. These rules are mandated by the school board in their district. Principals have little leeway. To be angry at the principal because she is following the rules when she imposed sanctions against kids who were not following the rules is just ignorant. More importantly, does it warrant murdering someone over? And you might get one moron father in this situation, but two? The circumstances in this story lack credibility.
Next: What’s the motive again? Many, many people want to get divorced. They don’t stab their spouses for asking. Was he going to lose his house, his business, his reputation? Did they have a terrible fight? I would have liked more in this area.
This wasn’t a bad story. But it wasn’t a great story either. Sort of in the middle, hence the two stars.
By the way, in the tag line, it should read ‘whom’. A’hm jus sayin’.