Friday, May 23, 2014

Appearing in issue #21, May 26, 2014

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.


Joyce Ackley said...

I can't go back and read the story because I cut off that inspirational column on the left side of the page and sent it to a friend. But I tried to look at the piece of the page that was left. It was my understanding that Rosie knocked the denture cup off the counter. If so, this would be "Rosie's clue." Just curious if I'm right or wrong. Maybe someone could clarify.
I thought the bit about Rosie hiding the jewelry was a bit strange. I wondered where the jewelry was found and how they knew Rosie had hidden it. I have cats, and they don't hide any of my stuff. My sister's poodle, on the other hand, gathers items from all over the house and takes it to his bed. He has a stash. Once a guests' red bra went missing and guess where they found it?
I realize there were some issues with this story, but I didn't think it was too bad.

Chris said...

I'm afraid I got very confused with this one. Some interesting elements to it, but also some bits that I felt just added nothing. It made for a rather unclear story to my mind.

I've owned lots of cats and never have they hidden anything, although we did teach one to retrieve Maltesers (small round chocolate balls full of honeycomb, if you don't have them there) that we rolled up the hallway. Not that it's got anything to do with anything...

I've used the missing dentures theme myself in a ghost story, so that worked for me. But I'd have liked a bit more clarity in the storytelling.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Joyce. I have to stand corrected ... again. It WAS the cat that tipped the denture cup over. I read that and thought it was the housekeeper. So now the title makes more sense.

Okay, so with that said, the housekeeper sees the dentures, comes back with a white face like she's seen a ghost (cliché). I think it's over dramatic. Why wouldn't she come back to the police and say, "Helen's dentures are still here...don't you find that odd?" Or "I guess Helen didn't have time to put in her teeth before she fell." The story has the detective springing from his chair to see what had unnerved her.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Chris. My cat takes things and puts them in my shoe in the closet. Gifts, I guess. The weather was dreadful one day a few winters ago and I took my shoes with me in my bag to work. When I got there, I stared to change out of my boots, took my shoes out of the bag, and out fell a ratty old half eaten toy mouse. One of my cat's favorite things. I said, Aw, my little fella loves me. Of course everyone thought I was bonkers.

Jody E. Lebel said...

opps...started to change..

Jody E. Lebel said...

I changed the review to reflect that the cat solved the crime. Good grief. I think maybe that's worse.

Chris said...

Actually, I remember now, my two cats used to play pat-a-cake with the Christmas tree baubles and then chase them round the room when they fell off. Still not really taking, though, is it... And you could have found a lot worse things your cat had left in your shoe, Jody, so I'm thinking a chewed toy mouse is okay.

Elizabeth said...

A cat I used to have stole tinsel off the Xmas tree & stashed it in back of the couch. I think she was planning to build a nest with it, as she got pregnant soon after Xmas.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Elizabeth. Our cat used to eat strands of tinsel and of course it comes out the other end ... well, nuff said.

We stopped using tinsel after that. It could have wound around her intestines and been a real problem.

We also stopped buying white rugs.

Joyce Ackley said...

I'm wondering if the mini-mysteries are edited like the romances? I've heard of things being changed, added, taken out, etc. of the romances. Seems like editing could improve some of the weak plots,
procedural issues, and unclear clues, but I guess it could also cause some confusion.
What's the scoop on editing?

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Joyce. Yes, They edit the mystery stories also. They also make up the tag lines and often change the titles. Sometimes I think if the editing screws up a carefully plotted story. I've often had authors bemoan the fact that the changes don't jive with the original thought, or that it they cut something the author thought was important.

C said...

I just sent off my new one, Jody, after making a couple of changes based on the suggestions made by you, Betsi and Mary Jo. Right now I'm thinking they can make all the editorial changes they like if they'll only accept the thing, but of course I'll probably feel very differently if it ever gets that far.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Chris. Crossing fingers for you! One of these days...sooner or of your stories will sell to WW. You're a great writer, your stories are well done, and interesting. I have confidence WW will see the light.

Chris said...

Aww, thanks, mate. That's appreciated.