Saturday, November 29, 2014

Appearing in issue #48, December 1, 2014

Title:  I spy

By Author:  Marianna Heusler


Tag line:     Had the person who’d stolen the brooch been seen by the neighborhood watch?

Police characters:   Detective Kevin McCarthy and Detective Lola Wheeler

The gist:    Mrs. Middleton came home to find her valuable brooch had been stolen.  There were no signs of forced entry.  The home at been locked and the alarm activated. Three people had keys and alarms codes; Iris, the housekeeper; Larry, the contractor; Alison, the dog walker.  While Mrs. M was speaking to the detectives a neighbor came over and reported that she saw someone dressed in all black with a black baseball cap and sunglasses come out of Mrs. M’s house this afternoon.  She couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman but she believed the perpetrator saw her in the window watching.

The detectives speak to the dog walker and asked where she was between 1:00 and 2:00 today.   She said she picked up a customer’s dog and took him for a 45-minute walk, then went to her next job.  She was at Mrs. M’s at 10:00 in the morning to walk her dog.  The police told her someone had broken into Mrs. M’s home and stolen several pieces of jewelry including a brooch and that there was a witness.  The dog walker said she had nothing to worry about with regard to a witness because she wasn’t there.

The detectives next spoke to the contractor.  Again the cops told him what was stolen.  He claimed he wasn’t there today and that he was waiting for some kitchen cabinets so he could work on her kitchen. He said he saw the brooch when he was last there.  He said that Mrs. M was showing it to the cleaning lady and then left it on the window ledge, which he thought was odd as it looked expensive.  He claims he saw the cleaning lady pick it up and examine it closer.  He said today he had been working on another customer’s house but that he left for lunch.  When told about the witness he said, “Well, she didn’t see me because I wasn’t there and the diner is in the opposite direction.”

The housekeeper admitted to seeing and handling the pretty brooch last week when Mrs. M showed it to her, but denied stealing it.   She said she was home today cleaning her own home.  She said Mrs. M was careless with her jewelry and perhaps misplaced it herself.  When told about the witness, she said, “Then that clears me.”  

Crime scene:    Mrs. Middleton’s home.

Clues:    Only the real thief would know it was a woman who was the witness because he saw her, and that the diner was in the opposite direction of where she was.

Suspects:   The three people with keys and the alarm code.

Red herrings:    Mrs. M was careless with her valuables.

Solution:   The contractor took the jewelry.  He referred to the witness as she, something only the burglar would know.

My two cents:    So the neighbor sees someone suspicious, wearing all black, coming from her neighbor’s house but she doesn’t call the police?  Hmpf.  Thanks neighbor.

The cops are running around telling everyone what was stolen.  That’s just not done.

This was pretty easy to figure out.   The solution didn’t mention that the diner was in the opposite direction of the neighbor who saw him.  Maybe they ran out of words?  This is not the author’s fault.  This is poor editing.

I think the tag line was supposed to be funny.  Not sure.  It wasn’t.

Other than the police blabbing about what was stolen, there were no other real problems with this story.  It read well, the pacing was good.  I thought the clue was too obvious but at least there was a red herring and three suspects.  I can’t give it 5 stars because it’s quite boring, but I can’t give it less than 4 either.

Old women and their brooches.  Can’t we come up with something more modern?  How about having the bad guys steal a Wii? 


Joyce Ackley said...

Another stolen jewelry story! That's the theme of mine, but it's still out It hasn't been long enough to garner hope that it might have made it to Seattle, but I'm hoping it will.

I picked up on this clue right away. I am good at solving the mysteries where the culprit lets something slip!

The part about the diner was confusing. I didn't think about it until I had read your summary but yeah, why wouldn't the neighbor call the police and report what she saw? You made a good point about the cops revealing the item that was stolen. You're so good at picking up on these police things! I'm learning a lot from reading your remarks.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Joyce. Glad you're enjoying the reviews. When it comes to real-life crooks, they aren't the brightest. I'm working on a case right now where the guy stole some jewelry from a house he was working at (very much like this story) but the dummie went to the local pawn shop with his ID and pawned the necklace. Duh. Now if someone wrote that in a story, I'd be complaining, "How stupid can he be?" But in reality that's how it often happens. lol

Anonymous said...

I thought this was pretty good. Oddly, when I read it I guessed it was the contractor, but I couldn't figure out why until I read the solution. ??? Yes, brooches do seem terribly outdated in 2014.

I submitted a romance in August and another in October. In December (my goal is to submit a story every two months) I think I might try a mini-mystery...

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Anony You should try a mystery. You've got plenty of info from this blog to get you started. Or take a story that you liked and change it around. It if took place in the winter, make it the summer. If they were ice skating, have them water skiing. My point it use the style that sold and change the details.

Chris said...

I missed the clue that the guy knew the witness was a woman, but still thought it was him because he'd made that comment about going in the opposite direction. So I got there but for the wrong reason. This was nicely told and had all the right ingredients.

M D'Angona said...

They never seem to stop using the clue of "knowing something only the criminal would know". This is such an "easy way out" for the author. All that's needed is a decent story and throw the clue anywhere for a non "thought-out" mystery story. Or am I being too critical?

Jody E. Lebel said...

@M No, I agree. It's tired and used up. So only the bad guy knows something that will give him away, but can't we as writers come up with a better way to slip it in, a less conspicuous way? It's quite difficult and I struggle with it...which is why I threw my hands up in the air and did the very same trite thing in my last submission. If Johnene wants chocolate cake... a smart writer will send chocolate cake.

Susan said...

I guess I thought it was him because he tried to deflect attention away from himself to the cleaning lady. That and he may have been angry at Mrs. Middleton for rejecting the cabinet order. I didn't catch that he referred to the witness as "she."
I still have a mystery out that I mailed in early August. It's a murder mystery.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Susan. I too have a mystery I sent out on August 8th. We should be getting contracts pretty soon. (See how positive that is?)