Title: Playing hardball
By Author: Gary Delafield
Tag line: It looked like someone in Cody’s life was a stone-cold killer…but who?
Police characters: Sheriff Joe Watkins
The gist: Cody lay dead, a bloody stone doorstop the apparent weapon. His wife, home from shopping with two unpacked store bags nearby, found her husband. Cody had been planning a get-together with his buds to watch the ball game, so she went to the mall. The wife claimed she was only gone for about an hour to an hour and a half and when she got home the house was quiet. She appeared to be upset, but made a comment about now really being a baseball widow. She gave the sheriff the name of the two pals, although she never actually saw them arrive; Jim co-owner with Cody of an auto repair shop, and Nathan, owner of Espresso Garden coffee shop.
When the sheriff arrived at the coffee shop to speak with Nathan, the man thought he was a customer and offered coffee. Nathan said he arrived at Cody’s for the game a little before one, didn’t see anyone including the wife, and he left early because he said Cody was drinking and trying to get him to wager on the game. Jim had not arrived by the time Nathan left.
When the sheriff questioned Jim, he was home watching the second game of a double header. He said he went to Cody’s house, rang the bell, but no one answered. The sheriff asked if the wife was there and Jim said, no, she had gone out shopping. He said he looked in the window and saw the TV was not on and surmised that Cody had changed his mind about getting together.
The sheriff knew who had killed Cody.
Crime scene: Cody’s house.
Clues: The fact that the wife was shopping.
Suspects: Nathan, the wife, or Jim.
Red herrings: The ‘widow’ remark made her look cold, perhaps guilty.
Solution: How could Jim know that the wife was out shopping if he never went into the house? Jim and Cody argued about business, it became physical, and Jim grabbed a stone doorstop and hit, and killed, Cody.
My two cents: This story flowed along well. The police work was good. Although not in the ‘gist’ above the story mentions that the sheriff wouldn’t have the official coroner’s report until tomorrow, but that a blow to the head appeared to be the cause. The title and the tag line both work. We have three suspects. Although not a great red herring the cold remark from the wife did put a little suspicion on her. The clue is a well used one; only the killer knows the details, but frankly that’s how it is in the real world, and that’s how detectives get their man. Or woman.
I can’t find a reason not to give this story 5 stars.