Title: Rosie’s clue
By Author: Marti Attoun
Tag line: It appeared Miss Helen’s cat had some information she wanted to share with the detective …
Police characters: Detective Jack Phillips
The gist: Retired bank president, Helen Horton, lay dead at the foot of her townhouse stairs. Detective Phillips watched the EMTs load her body onto a gurney. Helen’s niece, Mary Ellen, her only relative, had split with her husband and had been living with Helen. She heard the fall and called 911. She told police that her aunt had knocked on her bedroom door to tell her she was going for her morning walk and that she’d leave the door open for the housekeeper. Helen walked each day and was often seen with her colorful track suits, styled hair, and red lipstick. Mary Ellen said the cat, Rosie, probably tripped Helen. The housekeeper arrived and was distraught to hear that Helen was dead. Helen had kept her on even though she didn’t need a full-time housekeeper since her niece had moved in. The townhouse was immaculate and the detective noted that the bed was made and the bathroom fixtures gleamed. The vanity held a soap dish and a denture cup. He knew that Helen had recently reported some jewelry missing. He speculated aloud that Helen may have interrupted another robbery. When Mary Ellen heard that she claimed to not know anything about stolen jewelry but pointed a finger at the housekeeper. The housekeeper was stunned that she would be accused of such a thing, started crying, and went to the bathroom to get a tissue. While in there she saw that the cat, Rosie, had knocked over the denture cup onto the counter top. When the detective saw the spill, he knew who to arrest.
Crime scene: Helen’s townhouse.
Clues: The denture cup.
Suspects: Mary Ellen, the housekeeper, or some random burglar.
Red herrings: None.
Solution: Mary Ellen wanted an advance on her inheritance and was angry when her aunt refused. She argued with her aunt while Helen got ready to go for her walk. Infuriated by Helen’s refusal she pushed her aunt down the stairs. Though dressed for her walk Helen did not have her teeth in, but Mary Ellen had not noticed. As for the stolen jewelry last week the detective and Helen had been amused to find that the cat had taken the sparkly gems and hidden them. Det. Phillips used the missing jewelry to explain the ‘crime scene investigation’ and to see who jumped at the chance to place blame.
My two cents: Well, well, well. Where do I start?
There was the bit about the bed being made. Well, who made it? The housekeeper hadn’t arrived yet. Was that supposed to be a red herring?
Next Helen said she was going to leave the door open for the housekeeper. This full-time housekeeper doesn’t have a key? Mary Ellen couldn’t let her in? What was the purpose of that bit of info?
So Helen did not have her teeth in yet. Perhaps it was the last thing she did every morning before her walk. Hardly a smoking gun.
I’m confused about Det. Phillips using the missing jewelry to explain the ‘crime scene investigation’. For gawd’s sake, a woman was dead. Isn’t that enough?
The story said that Helen had kept the housekeeper on even though she didn’t need to since her niece had moved in. Well, her niece isn’t a housekeeper. In fact, now the housekeeper has to clean up after two people.
The cat accidently knocked over the denture cup? Those things are square and low and they have a snap-on top. How do you knock that over so that it spills out onto the counter top? If it had fallen off the counter onto the floor maybe…
Once again the story was not complete. You have to read the solution, which was almost a column long, to put the pieces together. The cat knew who the killer was and tipped off the police. Puuullleeese. Two stars.