Friday, February 27, 2015

Appearing in issue #8, February 23, 2015

Title:  Planted evidence

By Author:  Maria Gregory


Tag line:     The detective wanted to learn who had permanently altered Mrs. Prescott’s morning routine!

Police characters:   Detective Patty Lane.

The gist:    A preliminary crime scene analysis indicated that Anne Prescott, a wealthy widow, may have been poisoned.  Three suspects were identified as having motive and opportunity; her niece, her nephew, and her housekeeper.  All of them were mentioned in her will.  Det. Lane was investigating the murder.  She knew that Ms. Prescott was a woman of habit who had an iron-clad morning routine.  She rose at seven daily, showered, dressed, and drank one cup of black coffee prepared by her housekeeper before she went into her garden to pick fresh flowers for the house which she arranged in a glass vase on the table.  She then did a crossword puzzle from the morning’s paper.  Det. Lane viewed the crime scene, which had not been disturbed.  There was a half-full mug of coffee and fresh flowers on the table.

The body was found slumped over the table by her niece who had arrived at 8:45.   Det. Lane interviewed the housekeeper who said she works every weekday. She said she arrived at 7:15 (the morning Ms. Prescott was found dead) and made coffee.  She claims Ms. Prescott came downstairs and gave her a grocery list and a list of errands as she does every Tuesday morning.  She showed the list to Detective Lane.  The housekeeper had nothing good to say about the niece and nephew.  She claims they just started coming around recently because Ms. Prescott’s health has been declining.

The niece claims she and her brother were taking good care of their aunt, and it was true that they hadn’t visited her much before because her aunt was very independent.  She hadn’t planned on visiting the day her aunt was found dead, but she just had a feeling so she dropped by.  She said her aunt loved to tell her stories about when she was young.  She pointed to the vase of flowers and said “Just this morning she was talking about how her fresh flowers reminded her of good memories of past admirers who used to bring her flowers.”

The nephew claims he didn’t see his aunt that morning she died, but he did go to the property to borrow his aunt’s lawn mower.  He went to the shed behind the garage, took the equipment, and left.  He lost his job three weeks ago and has been doing landscaping to make money.

Detective Lane knew who murdered the aunt.

Crime scene:    Ms. Prescott’s home.

Clues:    The timing of Ms. P’s routine and what was found at the crime scene.

Suspects:   The housekeeper, the niece, the nephew.

Red herrings:    The nephew had lost his job.  The housekeeper had nothing good to say about the two relatives. They had just started visiting their aunt.   

Solution:  The niece did it.  She knew the housekeeper did errands on Tuesdays and would be out but she didn’t know of her aunt’s unwavering routine.  Ms. Prescott didn’t bring in flowers until after she finished her coffee.  Trying to make the room look ‘as usual’ the niece put fresh flowers in the vase.  She was impatient for her inheritance and hurried things alone with a dose of poison.  The fresh flowers clued in the detective that the niece was lying.

My two cents:    I was very happy to see good police work, including a crime scene preliminary cause of death, included in this story.  Nothing negative to comment on there.

There were several good red herrings that made the reader think the housekeeper may be involved. 

Little details that bothered me.  The niece called the police at 8:45.  That seems a bit late for a woman who had coffee around 7:30 every morning.   Isn’t it a bit difficult to tell day old flowers from fresh flowers? Couldn’t the flowers found in the vase, the reason the detective became suspicious that the niece was lying, be yesterday’s flowers?  Where was the newspaper?

I think the real clue was that the niece told the detective that ‘Just this morning my aunt said –- “ She couldn’t have been talking to her aunt that morning, if the aunt was dead when she walked in as she told the police.

 I think the solution was the victim here, perhaps of disjointed editing.

The title and tag line worked for this story.  It was well written, well paced with a nice inclusion of red herrings, police work was good, and there was motive, which gives this story 4 stars.  The clue was a bit fuzzy.  Was it the fresh flowers on the table that clued in the detective, or the fact that the niece claimed she spoke to her aunt when the aunt was supposedly dead when she walked in?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Successful Short Story Author

I attended a webinar the other day -- if attend is the right word when you’re sitting at home in your jammies  -- by author Jacob M. Appel  who writes, among other things, short stories.

From his website:
Jacob has published short fiction in more than two hundred literary journals including AgniAlaska Quarterly ReviewConjunctionsColorado Review, Gettysburg ReviewIowa ReviewPleiades, Prairie Schooner, ShenandoahSouthwest Review,  StoryQuarterly, Subtropics, Threepenny ReviewVirginia Quarterly Review, and West Branch.  He has won the New Millennium Writings contest four times, the Writer's Digest "grand prize" twice, and the William Faulkner-William Wisdom competition in both fiction and creative nonfiction.  He has also won annual contests sponsored by Boston Review, Missouri Review, Arts & LettersBellingham ReviewBriar Cliff ReviewNorth American Review,  Sycamore Review, Writers' Voice, the Dana Awards, the Salem Center for Women Writers, and Washington Square.  His work has been short listed for the O. Henry Award (2001), Best American Short Stories (2007, 2008), Best American Essays (2011, 2012), and received "special mention" for the Pushcart Prize in 2006, 2007, 2011 and 2013. 

His numbers were pretty interesting.  He’s been writing for 20 years, and has accumulated over 21,000 rejection letters.  That’s 1000 a year or 3 a day. 

He writes 10-15 hours a week.  (He’s a physician at Beth Israel Hospital but also has many other degrees, law being one.)  He also does one hour a day doing what he calls the business of writing.  In other words, answering e-mails, promoting his work, and making contacts.  He’s not a big Twitter or FaceBook person, but he does have a website, and although it’s not fabulous, it does the trick.

He sold 30 stories last year.  He claims for every story he sells, he will get 30 rejections.  Every time he gets a rejection, he sends out two more stories.  If he gets a particularly painful rejection, he sends out 10 stories that day.  On occasion a magazine will say to him that his story wasn’t a good fit, but “What else do you have?” For this purpose, and also to keep his submission numbers up, he has a stash of about 400 stories that he can dip into.  And he keeps adding to that pile. His advice is to keep your stories fresh.  Stories from 10 years ago when he used to wear a beeper, and so did his characters, are going to be dated today.

His technique is process based as opposed to project based.  In other words he doesn’t concentrate on one piece of work or one particular magazine, or even one genre, but works on many different types of stories.

His view on submitting simultaneously is he won’t do it with magazines he has a relationship with, but he feels it is an unreasonable request for magazines to ask him to sit on stories for months waiting for an answer.  He submits no matter what the guidelines say.  It’s a numbers game.  Be relentless. Volume matters. 

He always uses a cover letter.  He suggests you be open to feedback, as flexibility also matters.  

Someone he respected once told him, “If a magazine turns you down three times, don’t submit to them again.”  (He’s talking about magazines where he’s done the research and knows what kinds of stories they are looking for, but his subs still got rejected.)  He believes this is bad advice.  Editors change, consumers changes, the magazine’s needs change constantly.  Your stories might not have been right at the moment, but could be right in the future.  

He suggests you be a good literary citizen.  By that he means: subscribe to magazines you wish to be published in; agree to mentor new writers; give blurbs when you can; attend events of other writers and be supportive; patronize bookstores; visit libraries; and send thank you notes when applicable.  Not an e-mail, a nicely written, personal thank you note.

He let it slip that the New Yorker pays six digits for some of their stories.  Not that it’s very likely an unknown will get one of those spots, but that’s a hell of a contract.

His said if you’re considering pubbing your own collection of short stories the way to do it is to count the words not the stories.  His idea of a decent marketable collection is around 40,000-45,000 words.  His stories range in the 6000-8000 word area, so his collection would contain about 6-8 stories.  If you self pub and can sell 5000 books in 1-2 months, publishers will pay attention.

If you want a list of the top 200 journals (magazines) get hold of The Best American Short Stories anthology (library) and in the back they provide that list.  These magazines are where they pull their collection from.

And finally a hint about submitting to magazines.  Submit early in the submission period.  In other words if a magazines takes submissions from October to March, don’t wait until March.  The readers at the publishing house will be eager and rested in October.  Not so much in March.  This also works for contests.   Try to find a themed magazine, or contest, as there won’t be as many submissions.  He suggests you consider entering contests.  Unlike submitting to a magazine, in a contest someone HAS to win from the group submitted. Your odds are better than a random submission to WW who gets thousands of stories per month to the point where they can just glance at them quickly before sending out a rejection letter.  Not so with a contest.  Every submission is read.  Agents keep their eyes on contests and contracts are not uncommon for winners.

So, that’s it.  He was interesting.  I learned a few things, and I was wowed by his numbers. I'm not sure I could handle three rejections a day but if you want to run with the big dogs, you have to pee in the tall grass.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Appearing in issue #7, February 16, 2015

Title:  On the rocks

By Author:  BJ Bourg

Tag line:     The detective wondered if all three boys at the site had been happy campers…

Police characters:   Detective Grace Winston, Detective Brandon Sharper.

The gist:    Three teenage boys, age 17, went on a weekend camping trip.  The first night was uneventful, but when they woke up Nick was gone.  Thinking perhaps he had just gone home, the police checked with his parents but they had not seen him since he left for the trip.  The police were combing the woods looking for the boy. 

Detective Sharper had taken the remaining two boys’ licenses for ID, and handed them to Det. Winston.  Winston took the first boy, Rusty, aside to speak with him.  He said they had all set up camp yesterday, had talked by the campfire last night, he turned in around ten, and when they were making breakfast the next morning the two boys called to Nick but discovered he wasn’t in his tent.  Rusty said neither of them had any problems with Nick.  He said that Nick was a funny guy and everyone loved him, especially the girls.  He claimed that Nick said he wanted to go rock climbing in the dark and the two boys told him not to.

Next Det. Winston questioned Rory, the second boy.  He told basically the same story; that Nick wanted to climb the rock wall by the river and they both told him it was a dumb idea.  Rory said Nick was still sitting by the fire when he went to bed.  When the two boys realized Nick wasn’t in his tent they went looking by the rock wall and around the river to see if he had gone climbing but they didn’t see anything.  Rory called his mom to report Nick missing.   Rory also told Det. Winston that Nick is popular with the girls and that his girlfriend’s name is Theresa.

At this point a deputy, out of earshot of the two boys, informed Det. Winston that Nick’s body had been found.  It appeared that Nick had indeed fallen from the rock wall and his body had traveled downstream with the current until it snagged on a tree branch.

Det. Winston formed the opinion that Nick didn’t fall, that he had been pushed.  When she asked Rory who Theresa had dated before Nick, Rory told her she had dated Rusty, but Rusty was over it, and it was Rusty who had invited Nick camping.  

Det. Sharper asked Det. Winston how she knew it wasn’t an accident.

Crime scene:    Campsite in the woods.

Clues:    Nick was liked by the girls.  Rusty invited Nick camping.  Nick was dating Rusty’s ex.

Suspects:  The two boys, Rusty and Rory.

Red herrings:    None.

Solution:  When asked if they had any problems with Nick, Rusty referred to him in the past tense.  (Nick was a funny guy, everyone loved him.)  This made Det. Winston think he already knew he was dead.  Nick did go to the rock wall. Rusty followed him to have it out over Theresa. An argument ensued and it became a scuffle, at which point an angry Rusty pushed Nick into the river.

My two cents:    I figured it was girl problems because all the ladies loved Nick.  This was pretty simple, but all in all it was a good story.  I thought the clue was well hidden. I was glad to see it was a scuffle and a push, and not a planned murder.  After all, they’re only 17. 

The police work was spot on.  The story read well, and was paced well.  The author slid the clue in there like a pro.  The characters seemed real.  There was a motive for a fight, that then turned deadly.  Five stars.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

When we were doing our “write a story as a group” exercise a few weeks ago, we were talking about her having a ‘small gun’.  I started thinking… how small is small?  Thanks to I found out.

“When you talk about bullets the highest level trait is “Stopping Power”. This is a relatively vague trait and somewhat controversial. What it boils down to is how many bullets does it take to drop a person? Granted, if you hit someone in the right spot it only ever takes one but in most situations you’re aiming for center mass (a.k.a. the chest, a.k.a. the largest target available). Some bullets have enough power or other traits that will cause damage to organs even if you don’t hit them.

I should also point out that the term “caliber” is nothing more than the size of the bullet. For most handgun rounds, the number is the diameter, in inches, of the bullet. That means that a .40 caliber bullet, for example, is .4 inches across.

Let’s start with the runt of the litter....


Though not the smallest round by far, it is the most common tiny round. It’s also sometimes called “twenty two long rifle” and “twenty two rimfire”.

Pros: Tiny, light and stupid cheap. You can get 500 of them for around $15 and carry all of them in a fanny pack or the leg pockets on your cargo shorts. The recoil is almost non-existent.

Cons: These things are only a few steps up from a pellet gun round. They can kill, don’t get me wrong, but they’re mostly for killing rats, snakes and birds. They’ll kill an attacker for sure but it might take a shot or six.


Slightly larger than the .22 and slightly more powerful....though not much. There are quite a few guns that use this size but the ammo is more expensive and you’re not getting too much added benefit other than the inherent reliability that comes with center fire casings.

Pros: Slightly more stopping power than the .22 but it’s kind of like the difference between stabbing someone with an ice pick or a knitting needle. Both do the job, but one will leave an ever so slightly larger hole.

Cons: Same thing as the .22, really.


Now we’re getting into the beefy sizes. Sometimes called a “9mm Short”.  

Pros: This bullet has relatively low recoil and, at close range, good penetration.

Cons: This is a low power round. Because of the nature of the bullet and the guns that shoot it, it’s going to be relatively useless beyond close range.


The 9mm bullet is the same size as the bullet used in the .380 and the .38 Special. The only difference between the three is the amount of gunpowder behind it.

Pros: This is arguably the smallest bullet that will result in the fabled “hydrostatic shock”. The rounds are inexpensive and they have very low recoil.

Cons: It’s still a relatively small round. It’s got some stopping power for sure

.38 Special

So what makes it so special? It has a longer cartridge and more powder in said cartridge but it is a slower, heavier bullet than the 9mm. Here’s the thing: in the gun world, slower is a good thing. Think about it this way: although both would suck, would you rather be stabbed quickly by a steak knife or really slow with a spoon? Which would do more damage? The steak knife is going to make a clean cut. The spoon is going to rip and tear. The .38 special is like that spoon.

Pros: This is a nasty bullet. It’s going to hit hard. The FBI used this cartridge as its standard issue for a very long time.

Cons: This is a revolver round. You’re not going to find a semi-auto gun that fires these, as far as I know. There’s also a hefty recoil especially.  


This round has got massive stopping power and a relatively small size. There are a lot of police forces that use this round as well. 

Pros: You shoot someone with this round and they will know they got hit. It maintains its track for a good long while so it has good range. Ammo is still relatively inexpensive.

Cons: If you increase the size of the round and its power, you also increase its recoil. Many people complain about the kick from this round. But the kick from the .40 is very manageable compared to...

.44 Magnum and the .357 Magnum

You know that “do you feel lucky, punk” and “go ahead, make my day” lines that everyone quotes constantly? Clint Eastwood was holding a .44 Magnum revolver when he grumbled those lines. At the time it was the most powerful handgun in the world. These are pretty much only revolver rounds, although there’s a couple of rifles that use them.

Pros: The bullet equivalent of a sledgehammer. You hit something with this round and that something is going down.

Cons:  The recoil is insane.

.45 ACP

This thing is a big bullet with stopping power to spare. The choice of many police officers and military personnel for years.

Pros: Stopping power, inexpensive and a lot of guns chamber this round. If you hit someone center mass with this bullet, they will drop. If they’re on drugs it’ll take maybe 2 shots. This is the round to stop someone with.

Cons: As with the Magnums, the increased stopping power means increased recoil.

.500 S&W Magnum & .50AE

Coming in at a half an inch wide and packed with gunpowder, these babies are the most powerful shot around.

Pros: If you are holding this gun, people will run from you. There will be no surviving a center mass shot from these. Heck, the .500 is used for hunting bear.

Cons: The recoil from either of these rounds is like getting fisted from God. We’re talking physically painful to shoot. Also, if you hold the .500 revolver wrong it can and will remove fingers. I don’t think you can comprehend the sound and force of one of these going off. “


Friday, February 13, 2015

Appearing in issue #6, February 9, 2015

Title:  The comic book killer

By Author:  Ryan P. Casey


Tag line:    Why was there never a comic book superhero around when you needed one?  

Police characters:   Sgt. Todd Banks, Det. Liz Sheridan

The gist:    The story begins with the two cops standing over the draped body, talking about comic books they used to own.  The body of Randall Evans, owner of the Comic Relief book store was found on the floor behind the cash register, the victim of a single bullet to the chest.  No weapon was found.  The call came in around 3:00 from his assistant, Isabelle.  She was the only other person in the shop besides the killer. The cop who loves comic books noted that Evans had just acquired a rare comic book, mint condition, well worth over a hundred grand.  The cop said he would have killed to have a look at it.  It was kept behind the register in a locked drawer.  Evans wore the key around his neck.  Isabelle, who is Goth, said she was in the back room sorting stock when she heard the front door bell.  She said she heard voices, then a loud bang like a gunshot.   She stepped out from the back room just as someone was making his way out the front door. She saw him as he ran past the front window.  She described him as tall, wearing a blue jacket with some writing across the back (some sports team she thought), a red baseball cap, dark jeans, blonde hair in a ponytail.   She said he had a scar running from the corner of his lip to his chin.   She found the body and called the police. She did not see where the man ran to.

As the cops left, the cop who loved comics picked up a book and said he wanted to buy it for his collection and asked how much it cost.  Isabelle squinted and walked closer, asking, “Which one is it?” 

The cops knew she was the killer.

Crime scene:    Comic book store.

Clues:    The detailed description Isabelle was able to give, and the fact that she can’t see well.

Suspects:   Isabelle or some random dude.

Red herrings:    None.

Solution:  Isabelle had shot her boss for the pricey comic book and made up a story about a robber, but she overdid it with the description seeing as how she can hardly see two feet in front of her.

My two cents:    This one was pretty easy.  Let me change that.  This one was too easy.  No challenge. 

Now, let’s talk cops.  Pretty callous to stand over a dead body and chit chat about what comic books you loved as a child.  Pretty thoughtless to say he’d kill for a peek at the rare book.  Pretty dumb to handle a comic book at a crime scene and try to buy it.  Pretty stupid to walk out the door leaving behind a store worker and a dead body on the floor; must have been donut time.   Pretty clumsy not to call in crime scene to dust the door.  (By the way Crime Scene would have done a gunshot residue test on her right off the bat.) Pretty sad the cops didn’t even think about getting video surveillance from any of the neighboring stores.  Bottom line; this story was pretty awful.

I don’t know why it was important to tell us Isabelle is Goth.  The story gave a good description right down to her black nail polish.  So I guess all Goth people are suspects now?  

How do we know she was the only other person in the shop besides the killer?

This was a clumsy read, the pacing was off, the clue was abysmal, and the characters sucked.  We don’t even have a real motive other than she must be evil because she’s Goth.  No stars.  None. 

Vacation is over.  No more Ms. Nice Guy.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

2014 by Author

                              The STARS of 2014

John M. Floyd, Appearing in issue #1, January 6, 2014  ***  6 Stories

Kendra Yoder, Appearing in issue #2, January 13, 2014   *** 3 Stories

Emma Courtice, Appearing in issue #3, January 20, 2014  *** 2 Stories

Clare Mischica, Appearing in issue #4, January 27, 2014 *** 3 Stories

Laird Long, Appearing in issue #5, February 3, 2014  *** 2 Stories

Monica A. Andermann, Appearing in issue #6, February 10, 2014

John M. Floyd, Appearing in issue #7, February 17, 2014 ***

Jean A. Davidson, Appearing in issue #8, February 24, 2014

Shirley McCann, Appearing in issue #9, March 3, 2014

Janie Turnbull, Appearing in issue #10, March 10, 2014

Michael D’Angona, Appearing in issue #11, March 17, 2014 *** 2 Stories

Richard Ciciarelli, Appearing in issue #12, March 24, 2014 *** 2 Stories

Tracie Rae Griffith, Appearing in issue #13, March 31, 2014 *** 4 Stories

John M. Floyd, Appearing in issue #14, April  7, 2014 ***

Adele Polomski, Appearing in issue #15, April  14, 2014

Phyllis Whitfield, Appearing in issue #16, April  21, 2014 *** 2 Stories

Tracie Rae Griffith, Appearing in issue #17, April  28, 2014 ***

Laird Long, Appearing in issue #18, May 5, 2014 ***

Clare Mishica, Appearing in issue #19, May 12, 2014 ***

Wendy Hobday Haugh, Appearing in issue #20, May 19, 2014

Marti Attoun, Appearing in issue #21, May 26, 2014

Herschel Cozine, Appearing in issue #22, June 2, 2014 *** 2 Stories

Tamara Shaffer, Appearing in issue #23, June 9, 2014

Gary Delafield, Appearing in issue #24, June 16, 2014 *** 3 Stories

Kendra Yoder, Appearing in issue #25, June 23, 2014 ***

John M. Floyd, Appearing in issue #26, June 30, 2014 ***

S. Furlong-Bolliger, Appearing in issue #27, July 7, 2014

Adrian Ludens, Appearing in issue #28, July 14, 2014

Kendra Yoder, Appearing in issue #29, July 21, 2014 ***

Mary L. Johnson, Appearing in issue #30, July 28, 2014

Mary Ann Joyce, Appearing in issue #31 August 4, 2014

Joan Dayton, Appearing in issue #32 August 11, 2014

Marianna Heusler, Appearing in issue #33, August 18, 2014  *** 2 Stories

Shannon Fay, Appearing in issue #34, August 25, 2014

John M. Floyd, Appearing in issue #35, September 1, 2014 ***

Bern Sy Moss, Appearing in issue #36, September 8, 2014

Herschel Cozine, Appearing in issue #37, September 15, 2014 ***

Phyllis Whitfield, Appearing in issue #38, September 22, 2014 ***

Richard Ciciarelli,  Appearing in issue #39, September 29, 2014 ***

Gary Delafield, Appearing in issue #40, October 6, 2014 ***

Clare Mishica,
Appearing in issue #41, October 13, 2014 ***

John M. Floyd,  Appearing in issue #42, October 20, 2014 ***

Rosemary Hayes, Appearing in issue #43, October 27, 2014 *** 2 Stories

Gary Delafield, Appearing in issue #44, November 3, 2014 ***

Tracie Rae Griffith, Appearing in issue #45, November 10, 2014 ***

Tracy Green, Appearing in issue #46, November 17, 2014

Aimee Deschaine, Appearing in issue #47, November 24, 2014

Marianna Heusler, Appearing in issue #48, December 1, 2014 ***

Emma Courtice, Appearing in issue #49, December 8, 2014 ***

Rosemary Hayes, Appearing in issue #50, December 15, 2014 ***

Michael D’Angona, Appearing in issue #51, December 22, 2014 *** 

Tracie Rae Griffith, Appearing in issue #52, December 29, 2014 ***

Friday, February 6, 2015

Appearing in issue #5, February 2, 2015

Title:  Snow emergency

By Author:  Laird Long


Tag line:     The freshly fallen snow, dazzling white, didn’t blind the sheriff to the killer’s identity!

Police characters:   Sheriff James Prescott and Deputy Sheriff March.

The gist:   Sheriff Prescott was investigating the murder of Red and the theft of his Liberty gold coins he hoarded in his cellar.  The grisly discovery of Red’s body had been made by the mailman.  The battered body was found near the entrance to his storm cellar. The police found snowshoe tracks running from the road onto Red’s property and snowmobile tracks alongside the road.  The tracks were still visible and the frozen body of Red was covered in only a trace of snow telling the police that the murder and theft had happened after the snow storm had ended Sunday night and before the roads were cleared Monday night.  The snowshoe tracks were unique only in their actual depth in the snow which was rather shallow.   The snowmobile tracks were even less revealing.  Red’s place had been ransacked.

The police narrowed the suspects down to three men due to the fact that some random stranger wouldn’t have been out snowmobiling after a major storm and happen to have a pair of snowshoes handy and also know about the rumored gold stash.  Suspect #1 was Collier, a local old-timer who was slight and sprightly.  The two men had been friends until the day Red chased Collier’s grandchildren away with a loaded shotgun.  Collier admitted that Red had once told him about his gold horde in the cellar when they had been pals. Suspect #2 was Bryan, a phsy-ed teacher and all around outdoorsman.  Trim and athletic, he’d only been in town about six months and a background check revealed he had some serious financial troubles.  He had no grudge with Red, admitted to hearing the gold rumors, but didn’t know where the gold was supposedly hidden.  Suspect #3 was Jack, a burly 300-pound lumberjack who had had a recent run-in with Red about cutting trees too close to Red’s property. 

Sheriff Prescott dismissed two of the men but wanted to question the third one again.  Who did he suspect?

Crime scene:    Red’s shack.

Clues:    The weight of the men and the whereabouts of the gold.

Suspects:  Collier, Bryan, or Jack.

Red herrings:    None.

Solution:  Jack was too heavy to have left the slight snowshoe prints.  Collier knew the gold was in the cellar and wouldn’t have ransacked the house looking for it.  Bryan heard the rumor about the gold but didn’t know where it was.  He went out to investigate, and was caught by Red, so he killed him to keep him quiet.

My two cents:    It was only rumored that crazy old Red had a stash of gold coins, why were the police calling this a murder and theft? Without proof that there was ever any gold at all, never mind any missing coins, this should have just been a murder investigation.

The clue about the suspect’s weight has been done before, but the clue about the house being ransacked was a good one.  Collier knew the gold was supposed to be in the cellar, he wouldn’t have wasted time looking through the house.  The author slipped this clue in seamlessly.

The story read well, and the pacing was good.  The characters were believable and the situation was believable.