Title: Lights out!
By Author: Tracy Green
Tag line: Everyone was in the dark about who had robbed the jewelry store!
Police characters: Detective Angela Chu
The gist: In the middle of a city-wide power outage the city’s most famous jewelry store had been robbed. Police speculated that only a skilled thief could have pulled off that stunt, someone who familiarized himself with the work habits of the partners, became familiar with the building layout, and understood the state-of-the-art security system. At the time of the blackout and the theft, the night before, there were only two people in the building; one of three partners (Kirk) and a trusted security guard. Kirk claimed he had been working late to get the books in order for the accountant who was coming the next day. As he was preparing to leave the building, the lights went out. He said he called for the security man but he wasn’t at his station in the lobby. He said he was concerned for the guard, as he was a bit elderly and went to look for him. He took the elevator to the parking basement and found him in his car passed out drunk. He said he was agitated and just left the man in the car, and he went home.
Partner #2 (Lincoln), who was not present when the theft occurred, said he and the partner #3 (Paul) had attended the gem and mineral show at the convention and had been there the entire day. He said he went home after the show and assumed Paul did, too. Lincoln told Det. Chu that Kirk has a large art collection and had recently been scrambling to gather money to purchase a painting he desperate wanted. Det. Chu thought perhaps Lincoln was telling her this to divert suspicion from himself. Chu also learned that partner Paul had hefty alimony payments.
When Det. Chu interviewed partner Paul he told her that partner Lincoln had a gambling problem and that the jewelry store was insured to the max.
Det. Chu spoke to the security guard who admitted he had been drinking and even left the premises for awhile to meet his friends in a bar. He said he had had too much to drink and decided to sleep it off in the car, never thinking he’d be found. He told Chu that Paul had overseen the installation of the new security system and had bothered the technicians with endless questions.
Det. Chu knew who her man was.
Crime scene: jewelry store.
Clues: the power outage.
Suspects: the three partners, or the security guard.
Red herrings: Paul’s detailed knowledge of the security system. The fact that the accountant was coming in the next day to look at the books. Det. Chu’s thoughts on Lincoln trying to throw her off the track.
Solution: Kirk is the thief. He said he took the elevator to go check on the security guard, but the power was out, so how could he? He took advantage of the outage, and when it came back on he found the guard, so he used him to lie about how the events unfolded.
My two cents: I guess no one has ever heard of backup generators. This is a high-buck jewelry store in a multi-level building that has an elevator and a lobby, with a state-of-the-art security system -- that goes down and leaves them vulnerable when the power goes out. Backup generators keep the security system operational, the emergency lights on, and the elevators running and are part of every “state-of-the-art” system. This is where the author made his/her biggest mistake. He/she should have kept it a bit low key in the security department.
The tag line was cute but the title was ho-hum. I know these are not the author’s doing.
Sometimes we have no red herrings; here we have three good ones.
Well, every-single-body had a motive here. I sure can’t squawk about ‘no motive’. Gambling problems, pesky alimony payments, art lust. Everybody pointing fingers at everybody else. And to top it off they have a drunk for a security guard.
I have to give this story 3 stars. The pacing was good, no problems with the writing, and it had motive out the kazoo, but the clue was not believable and the characters were all sharks and drunks. A bit over the top. Sort of a 180 from last week’s story that had blah characters and no motive.