Title: A loan-ly murder
By Author: John M. Floyd
Tag line: Angela Potts, as usual, had cracked the case. The sheriff just couldn’t figure out how she’d done it!
Police characters: Sheriff Chunky Jones, amateur sleuth Angela Potts
The gist: Angela is sitting outside the courthouse playing a game on her phone. The sheriff asks her for a ride because his car won’t start and both his deputies are tied up elsewhere. There’d been a murder, so Angela was delighted to help. Angela asked if the sheriff was questioning a recent suicide, a man named Zack. Sheriff Jones said no, that Zack’s daughter authenticated the suicide note. He added that someone had shot the banker, Jerry Westbrook, in the chest. The bullet wound was located right above the top button of his cardigan sweater. When they got to the bank, the bank manager told them the coroner was on his way and pointed to a distraught woman, Katie, a new customer, who had found the body. The sheriff nodded to Angela to indicate she should talk to Katie while he examined the body, which was located in the man’s office. Jerry was slumped face down in his desk.
Katie told Angela that she had come in for a loan and found the man dead. Angela asked her to describe the body. She described Jerry Westbrook as bald on top, eyeglasses, cardigan sweater and a gold watch. She said she heard footsteps running out back and feels she just missed whoever did it. Mrs. Potts remembered that Katie was the daughter of Zack who had tried to take out a loan and was turned down. The same Zack who had killed himself. Sheriff Jones told Katie he needed to search her purse. When he did, he found an automatic pistol with a silencer.
When asked how Angela was so sure Katie was the killer, she remarked that if Katie had been innocent she couldn’t have seen what she saw.
Crime scene: Bank office.
Clues: What Katie saw.
Red herrings: None.
Solution: A cardigan sweater has buttons down the front. Unless Katie had seen the victim sitting, before falling face down on his desk, she couldn’t have known it was a cardigan.
My two cents:
His squad car won’t start? I suppose that could happen. Even in a car that’s well maintained, mechanical things stop working. But in that case he’d call one of his deputies to come get him. Murder trumps most other calls. He wouldn’t take an old lady to a murder scene.
Dear Gawd, this is a homicide investigation and the sheriff has got a civilian questioning the main witness.
When you can see the dead body just by looking in the office doorway, why would anybody, police or civilian, ask a witness to describe the body? They wouldn’t. The author needed the shooter to say he was wearing a cardigan, so he threw that scene in there.
Where are the surveillance cameras? All banks have inside surveillance.
Bank managers don’t call the coroner. They call 911. The police arrive, they call in the detectives. Those are the guys that call the coroner’s office.
By the way, just FYI, an automatic pistol ejects a spent cartridge. I’m sure crime scene will match that casing up with her gun.
The police don’t get to search someone’s purse without permission. Most times the police have the person sign a ‘permission to search’ form, a form that will hold up later in court. Otherwise they need to obtain a search warrant.
The title was good but the tag line was out of sync with the story. He couldn’t have known how Angela knew, because he didn’t talk to the main witness and had no idea what was said.
It wasn’t the best Angela Potts story. It wasn’t the worst. There’s always lots of little technical issues in these Potts stories. Two stars for a decent clue (even though it was revealed in an odd manner) and good pacing.