Friday, October 17, 2014

Appearing in issue #43, October 27, 2014

Title:  Kidnapped!

By Author:  Rosemary Hayes


Tag line:     John Grady was fortunate that his forgiving wife was willing to pay the ransom…

Police characters:   Detective Tanya Tate

The gist:    John Grady shows up at the police station claiming he was kidnapped the night before and that his wife had paid the ransom.  Grady told Det. Tate that he owned a hamburger joint.  He closed last night around ten. He claimed as he was getting into his car someone hit him over the head.  When he came to he was in the back of a van. A person dressed in black showed him a typed letter stating he would be released unharmed when his ransom was paid.  He claimed he was locked in the van all night.  In the morning another person got in the van, they drove, pulled off the road, untied him and let him go.  He flagged down a car (the old guy in the car didn’t have a cell phone) and got a ride.  His burger place was closer than home, so he had the guy drop him there where his car was.  He called his wife, Maggie.  Maggie told the detective she was frantic and wanted to call 911 but her husband said he was fine and would drive himself home.  She insisted they go to the police station and report the crime.

Grady said he could not see neither their faces, nor their license plate.  Grady said the restaurant two doors down from him (Chinese) was having financial troubles, and they would know when his burger shop closed for the night.  Grady touched his head and winced while at the police station.  When his wife said of course she paid the ransom, she loved him, he gave her a thin smile.

Maggie said the kidnappers contacted her last night on her cell phone and demanded $200,000. She could not tell if the voice was male or female.  She was instructed to leave the money in a deserted industrial shed at 1:00 PM.  She had been warned not to call the police, so she didn’t.  Before she got the ransom call, Maggie said when Grady didn’t come home last night she got worried and went to his shop to look for him.  She said she found the shop locked up and the parking lot empty.   The man who owned the Chinese store was still there. He said he had not seen Grady.  Maggie said she thought she was going to catch Grady at his shop with his mistress, Sara.   Grady seemed surprised that his wife knew about Sara.  Maggie said she thought maybe Sara was involved in the kidnapping because she must have known Grady’s burger place wasn’t even breaking even, and she knew Maggie had a successful financial firm. 

Detective Tate knew the real scoop.

Crime scene:    Burger joint.

Clues:    Grady’s car.  Him giving his wife a thin smile. 

Suspects:   According to the wife, it might have been the mistress.  According to Grady, it might have been the Chinese restaurant owner.

Red herrings:    None.

Solution:   Grady faked his own kidnapping to get money from his wife.  She reported not seeing his car in the parking lot.  That’s because he drove off and hid out somewhere until he could pick up the ransom and then head home.  He wasn’t going to even report the crime, but his wife made him.

My two cents:    Not a bad little scenario.  A man with a girlfriend.  A man with a failing business.  A man with a wife who has money.  The story didn’t say he was going to run off with the girlfriend, but we could assume that.  Otherwise he could have just asked his wife for a loan for his failing business.  She seemed to really care about him.  She paid the ransom even though she knew about the affair.   He didn’t know that she had come to the restaurant looking for him last night, so he didn’t know she would tell the police the parking lot was empty. 

This story was different from the norm.  A faked kidnapping.  Haven't seen that yet to my recollection.  The story was well paced, the details fit, and it was a good clue.  Him giving his wife a thin smile while she's gushing over how much she loved him was another clue.  Although small, it was snuck in there nicely.  Nothing was overdone or corny. In real life the police would have looked at and taken photos of his head wound. Ah’m jus say’n.  It didn’t spoil the story.   The tag line is off, but I can’t put my finger on it. 

Four stars. 


bettye griffin said...

Any story where I can't figure out whodunit (like this one) is a good story!

Mary Jo said...

Well, my renewed subscription started with the October 20th issue, and of course I did not get the issue for the 27th. It happens. So I did not get to read the story. From your analysis,though, Jody, the minute you said he had a girl friend, it seemed obvious that he faked the kidnapping to get money from his dumb wife and run off with Sara.

My question, did the story itself reveal that, or was it that your analysis was just so thorough?

Now I have to check with WW to see if they have stopped my subscription...again.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Bettye I kinda/sorta figured he did it to himself, but it wasn't obvious. I agree, this was a good story.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Mary Jo. The story was clear that the wife was worried about her husband when he didn't come home (this was before she got the ransom call) so she drove over to the burger place thinking maybe he was dallying with his mistress. She knew about the affair but loved the schmuck anyway. Women...go figure. The story said he seemed surprised that his wife knew. I'm thinking if he knew that she knew, he might be worried about whether she'd pay the ransom or not. And if he knew she had been to the parking lot looking for him, he would have changed his story somehow to cover where his car was. But he was oblivious to all this and that was his downfall. She said she paid it because she loved him, and in the back of her mind she thought maybe the girlfriend had something to do with the kidnapping because she (the girlfriend) knew his business was failing and that his wife had money. The details all worked pretty well in this story.

For the blog, I generally read the story and as I get details that are necessary I write the blog, so the blog is really a mini version of the story. (I leave out dumb parts, like Mrs. Potts being mean to Chunky because they don't move the story forward.) I don't get creative until my Two Cents comments.

I too missed an issue. And by the time I realized it, the 10/20 issue was gone off the shelves. So I didn't get to critique that story.

Chris said...

This was more complex than the usual m-m and the clue about his car not being in the car park well hidden. I didn't spot it, so that pleased me. Nicely done. Okay, we knew it was him who'd 'kidnapped' himself as soon as we knew there was a mistress on the scene but that nugget of info wasn't dropped in until near the end, so not a spoiler, just an 'ah, so that's why he did it' moment.

Mary Ann said...

I didn't get to read this story either, but it sounds like a good one. I liked that it was a little change from the norm. I got the clue from Jody's summary,and solved it easily, but it still worked for me.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Chris. This is one of those stories that I save to study later when I'm getting ready to write a you-solve-t. It reminds me to be original, keep the pacing on track, hide the clue well and maybe even stick in a smaller clue. I wish I knew the author. I'd tell her how nice of a job she did.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Mary Ann. It was a nice change from the norm. The author thought outside the box. And there wasn't even one old lady in it... :)

Susan said...

When the wife said she bet the mistress did it to get to the wife's money, I thought for sure the wife did it to "hide" her money. I thought trying to catch her husband gave her a plausible reason to be at the restaurant. Boy, was I wrong. Loved the story, though.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Susan. I immediately thought he did it to run away with the mistress. I didn't even think about his wife maybe being involved. That would have been a great twist. Sort of a bait and switch technique on the reader. How would she give herself away? Food for thought.