Title: Sore loser
By Author: Phyllis Whitfield
Tag line: Who had been to tee’d off at Birdie Harris the he’d used the golf pro’s own club to kill him?
Police characters: Detective Bea Smart
The gist: The ME pronounced Birdie dead at the victim’s home. Cause of death was a blow to the head. Time of death was about one hour ago. It appeared that Birdie, a golf pro, had come outside to practice on his putting green when someone struck him. Birdie’s expensive golf bag and clubs were beside the body. Birdie’s caddy Frank, found the body. Frank called Russell, Birdie’s manager, and Russell called 911.
A neighbor told police she had heard Birdie and Russell arguing loudly yesterday over a contract. Russell told police he had been at Birdie’s the day before but it was to try out the new club Birdie had purchased two days ago, which he thought was overpriced and overrated. He claims they did have a loud discussion about Birdie buying a golf course that Russell thought was in such a bad location he figured it must be a scam.
The caddy, Frank, said he had been tending to his sick father all week and just got back. He claimed that Birdie had e-mailed him last night and invited him to drop by this morning to see a new swing he had developed with his new club. When he arrived, Frank claimed he found Birdie dead. He told police the only enemy he knew of was a newcomer to the golf world named JR Wright who was jealous of the prize money Birdie often won.
A heavy-set man interrupted the police investigation by stomping across the lawn and demanding to know why the police were there and where was Birdie? The man, Peter, claimed he and Birdie golfed almost daily and that he and Birdie had a game scheduled at the club this morning. When told Birdie was dead, Lang said they had just played yesterday and he had tried out the new golf club, which he didn’t like very much.
The police took the golf bag and clubs back to the lab for fingerprint analysis. All three men told police they would find their fingerprints on those clubs. The golf club was determined to indeed be the murder weapon. When the FP analysis was done crime scene found four sets of prints: the victim’s, manager Russell, golf buddy Lang, and caddy Frank.
Detective Bea knew who the killer was.
Crime scene: Golf pro’s yard.
Clues: The new golf club, who had touched it and when.
Suspects: Russell, Lang, or Frank.
Red herrings: This so-called enemy JR Wright. In fact the title of this story alludes to him.
Solution: Frank, the caddy, was the killer. If he had been away for a week, how could his fingerprints be on the club unless he used it to kill Birdie. When questioned, Frank told police Birdie had planned on firing him and hiring a new caddy. Frank became enraged and struck his employer with the fatal blow.
My two cents: Bea Smart? ((groans))
Okay, let’s see. Police work, my favorite thing, first. Most of it was very good. The only slip was when Lang came stomping across the yard. A murder crime scene is taped off, security officers are stationed at the door, and people can’t come walking into a crime scene. The ME is there, crime scene is there. Realistically Lang wouldn’t have made it past the front door. But that’s pretty minor. I won’t deduct the police-work star for that little slip because the rest was properly executed, but I wish an officer had brought the man back.
There was motive. There was a good clue.
The story mostly read well and the pacing was good. The only clumsy spot for me was when Lang was told about his friend being dead he carried on about trying out that new golf club and now much he didn’t like it. It doesn’t seem likely that it would be the first few things out of his mouth. I wish the author had slipped in how his fingerprints could have been on that club in a more realistic way. I have to deduct one star for character work. Lang’s reaction was not believable nor was that section well written.
The other characters were well defined and developed. Except the detective’s name. That was a little corny, but that’s a matter of taste.
I have to give this story 4 stars.