Title: Family ties
By Author: Emma Courtice
Tag line: The detective was looking for a sign that would put her on track to find the murderer!
Police characters: Detective Marie DeLuca
The gist: The butler was acting odd; giddy almost, sitting in a chair smoking a cigar and waving around a large snifter of brandy. He was complaining that the death of Uncle Dunbar, his employer, was going to leave him without work and he was annoyed. Portly nephew, Donald, told the butler to button up, that the uncle never liked him anyway. Nephew #2, David, responded back that uncle never liked Donald either.
On the day of his death Dunbar had been working in his library. He had had no appointments and no one had called. The two nephews had arrived late in the afternoon and found him slumped in his chair with a letter opener lodged in his chest. The two nephews were the only ones that had keys and could bypass the butler to enter the home.
Donald blamed the butler, saying Dunbar was going to leave him something in his will. The butler said the amount he was going to be left wasn’t much, and that Dunbar was worth more to him alive than dead. He added that that fact wasn’t true of either of the nephews.
David said he had come to call on his uncle because he needed him to sign a loan for his failing business. He produced a sealed, stamped envelope to the detective. When opened by crime scene it revealed a loan agreement with a blank line where the uncle was to sign.
Donald told police that his uncle had lent him some money several months back and he had come to pay him back. He showed the police a wad of money that he withdrew from his pocket.
Detective DeLuca knew who had killed Uncle Dunbar.
Crime scene: Uncle Dunbar’s residence.
Clues: None that could be discerned from the body of the story.
Suspects: The butler, Donald, or David.
Red herrings: The butler was acting odd. Was he trying to cover up his guilt with strange behavior? He was in the will but said it wasn’t for a large amount. What is ‘a large amount’ to him? This was left unanswered to throw the reader off.
Solution: David, who had come for the loan, was the killer. Uncle Dunbar had refused to sign the loan and while David stood at his desk Dunbar had made a show of folding the unsigned papers, sealing the envelope, stamping it and handing it back to David. Furious, David stabbed his uncle then arranged to find the body with his brother later on.
My two cents: Good grief. Anything else the author wants to leave out? How can the reader ‘solve-it’ when the story doesn’t have the needed details? This is not hiding a clue, this is misleading by leaving information out.
The fact that the envelope was sealed and had a stamp on it wasn’t a clue in my eyes. Who was it addressed to? David could have planned on sending the papers to his uncle but instead decided to visit him in person and brought the envelope with him.
This story was poorly executed. The police work was off, as the detective was interviewing everyone together. This is not done. She announced to everyone that it was murder. Not done. They opened the envelope in front of everyone. Not done. The crime scene tech opened the envelope and read it and decided what it was and announced it in front of the detective who was assigned to the case. Not done.
There was motive. The usual motive; money.
Not much was included in the way of character development. Both nephews were overweight, both were irritated, both had money problems. ((yawn)). The only entertaining character was the butler.
The pacing was off. A few rather long sections of info and a few parts that were too short. Way too much in the beginning about the butler (although it was the best part of the story). Way too much to-do about the crime scene tech opening the letter. The rest of the story was fed to us in quick spurts, almost as if it didn’t matter.
Donald, David, Dunbar. Nuff said? One star.