Title: Room Service
By Author: Tracie Rae Griffith
Tag line: The breakfast special was murder on Sophie Andrews’ health!
Police characters: Detective Kristine Kay and Sgt. Bill Morgan
The gist: A maid saw a breakfast cart in front of Sophie’s door. It held a covered plate, a side dish of fruit, and a carafe of coffee. She cleaned the hall and still Sophie had not retrieved her food. The maid knocked; no answer. She opened the door to peek in to tell her that her breakfast had arrived, and found Sophie dead on the floor. The maid told police that Sophie was a nice lady who, in fact, tipped her the night before. She also told police that Sophie’s family was staying at the hotel and were on the next floor down. Sgt. Morgan observed a heavy lamp with the base wrapped in a towel and assumed that was the murder weapon. There was no sign of forced entry. Det. Kay picked up the order form lying on the food cart and saw that breakfast, one Diamond special with coffee, was ordered at 7:35 and delivered at 8:02.
The police gathered the family in the conference room to tell them the bad news, that their Aunt had passed. Ellen asked if it was a heart attack. Ellen was the executor of her aunt’s will. Arthur said if Ellen had shown up for dinner on time last night instead of just showing up for dessert she would have heard Aunt Sophie talking about how she joined a swim class and had become a vegetarian and that she was in the best of health, unlike how she looked when she lived with Ellen for a year.
When asked where they all had been between 7:30 and 8:00 this morning, Ellen had a receipt for the gift shop with a time stamp of 7:55. Della, the third relative, said she had been walking in the nearby park alone. Arthur looked down at his hands and said he was in his room watching the weather channel.
The detectives left the family and went to have coffee and review their notes. Sgt. Morgan ordered breakfast also, the Diamond special, which consisted of pancakes, eggs and bacon.
Det. Kay figured it out.
Crime scene: Hotel room.
Clues: Aunt Sophie is a vegetarian. Breakfast was ordered at 7:35 and Della’s gift shop receipt read 7:55, enough time to have killed her aunt.
Suspects: The three relatives.
Red herrings: Della has no alibi. Andrew is acting guilty.
Solution: Ellen killed her aunt. She went to her room at 7:00 AM and a fight ensued over the will. She then called room service and ordered breakfast, unaware that her aunt is now a vegetarian and would have never ordered bacon. Then she went to the gift shop for an alibi.
My two cents: This is a well paced story. The tag line gives it away, but that is not usually the fault of the author as WW makes those up. The clue was pretty obvious when Andrew said Ellen missed the dinner conversation where Aunt Sophie revealed she had become a vegetarian. The time stamp on her gift shop receipt didn’t help but at least Ellen tried to get an alibi.
The police acted appropriately in the way they gathered the family in a private area to inform them of the death of their aunt in such a way as to not reveal she was murdered. But, I’m thinking the police would have looked at the plate on the food cart in the hallway to see if it was untouched. Aunt Sophie might have eaten a little bit and decided it was cold or not good or whatever, and pushed the cart back into the hall. If that were the case the time of death would have changed a bit.
The only mistake I could find is that a female responsible for managing the affairs of a deceased person during probate is known as the executrix.
All in all another good story from Tracie Rae.