Thursday, June 12, 2014

Appearing in issue #22, June 2, 2014

Title:  Bank caper

By Author:  Herschel Cozine

Tag line:   The detective was off-duty when the problem occurred, but his interfering mother-in-law was on the case!  

Police characters:   Police detective (not named in this piece) and Gladys, his mother-in-law

The gist:    On his day off this detective was stuck driving his mother-in-law to her hair appointment.  The salon was located next to a bank.  As they arrived at the salon a woman came rushing from the bank, pointing to a retreating man, and yelling that he had robbed her of $50.  The detective escorted the man back to the woman and notified him that he was accused of stealing her money.  He claimed he had just gotten it out of the ATM.  She claimed she had been filling out a deposit slip and the man grabbed her money and left the bank. The detective asked the man for an ATM receipt which he said he threw in the trash.  Said trash can was located and no receipt was found.  The man claimed the woman must have dug the receipt out of the trash in order to blame him.

Gladys told her son-in-law that that man was lying and to have him give the woman back her money.  How did she know?

Crime scene:    Outside the bank.

Clues:    The amount of money.

Suspects:   Only the man.

Red herrings:    None.

Solution:   ATMs only dispense twenty-dollar bills.  He couldn’t have withdrawn $50.

My two cents:    Well, once again the old lady saved the day.  WW loves old ladies.  My problem with this story is that the officer, who is a detective, is always portrayed as being dumb.  This story has him poking through the trash can instead of asking the bank for their security video footage, not only of the inside of the bank where she was filling out her deposit slip, but also of the ATM machine.  And who doesn’t know that ATMs only dispense 20s?  Apparently our trained, years-on-the-job, passed-the-detective-exam officer didn’t.  Good thing he had an old lady with him.

I’ll give this story 3 stars for being well written and moving at a good pace, but I didn’t enjoy watching this man fumble around and be made to look like an idiot.


Chris said...

I didn't spot the clue, simply because I'm English! Here, the amount he'd supposedly got out of the machine wouldn't be a clue because our cash machines DO dispense money in tens, in the shape of ten pound notes, as well as twenties. It was a well told story other than that, but just not solvable to a UK reader.

Tamara said...

I got the clue easily, but I still thought the story was clever enough. I do agree, though, that the detective was pretty inept and he didn't have to be; the story would have worked without the Fumbles the cop routine. Interesting about the ATMs in England, Chris. I've always wondered why we have to stick to 20s.

Chris said...

Just a quick aside... Good Housekeeping magazine is running a non-fiction comp with a prize of $2,000 on the subject of 'All About Love'. Details available at;

Closing date is in September, so bags of time to get something written.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Chris
It's definitely worth entering. Thanks for the lead. 2000-3000 words is high for me...but I'm going to take one of my stories and s-t-r-e-t-c-h it. Only adding fabulous things, of course.

Mary Ann said...

I thought this story was okay. The little old lady thing and fumbling detective is a bit of a rip-off of John Floyd's Mrs. Pott's character, so I would have liked to see something a little different. Like if WW really likes little old ladies solving the crimes, make it two twin sister little old ladies or something. It was well-written though, and these are difficult to pull off easily, in my opinion. I knew the solution right off the bat, but it was still a well told mini story.

Also @ Jody, the contest Chris mentioned is for Nonfiction, not fiction. So you'll have to recall an old flame (or new one...).

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Mary Ann

I just rewrite the story in first person and pretend it's me. :)

Elizabeth said...

About ATMs, we drove by a gas station in a poor neighborhood with a sign saying the ATM inside dispenses $5 and $10 bills.

Years ago I wanted to withdraw $40. The machine said it had only $30 in it, and would a $20 and a $10 be acceptable to me? I said yes & that's the only time I've ever gotten anything besides a $20 from the ATM.