By Author: Kendra Yoder
Tag line: Sergeant Miller could only hope the victim was sharp enough to outwit the kidnapper!
Police characters: Sgt. Miller, Officer Polasky
The gist: The alleged victim was the college-aged son of Doc Brennan. The police had received tips with regard to a vehicle description and a partial license plate and had identified the kidnapper as TJ Johnson, a ne-er-do-well. TJs address was a small cabin in the woods that he had inherited two months prior. The ransom note demanded $10,000 to be wired to an offshore bank account by midnight or “they” would knock off the kid.
When police arrived at the cabin, it appeared to be empty. Thinking that the kidnappers fled the scene with the victim, and knowing there wasn’t much in the way of gas or food nearby, Sgt. Miller figured TJ would stop in one of the nearest towns, which would take them either north or south about 40 miles.
At the cabin Sgt. Miller noticed fresh tire tracks. He decided to inspect the cabin looking for clues. Inside the cabin was a mess with dirty soda cups and crumpled burger wrappers. Sgt. Miller figured there’d be lots of fingerprints but he wasn’t too concerned, as he already had fingered TJ. There was a mattress in one bedroom with chains connected to overhead water pipes. This is where Sgt. Miller figured ‘they’ kept the victim. A piece of white caught Sgt. Miller’s eye. Under the mattress he found a monogrammed handkerchief with the initials CJB, the initials of the victim. Sgt. Miller figured the victim left the police a clue. There was no food in that room, but there was a deck of playing cards on the bed. Off to the side, separate from the rest of the deck, were five cards of various suits neatly placed in a row: 3-5-10-7-3. Officer Polasky figured it was a zip code but since zip codes only have 5 digits and phone numbers have 7, Sgt. Miller was stumped. But only for a moment. After viewing the cards from different angles, he knew where the kidnappers were headed.
Crime scene: Unknown from where this kid was grabbed. Unknown who had seen it or reported it.
Clues: The cards.
Suspects: Only TJ. Yet… the story refers in several places to kidnappers and ‘they’.
Red herrings: Perhaps the mention of an off-shore bank account would lead the reader to believe the son, who attends Princeton, might have faked his own kidnapping. This could be a red herring, but I’m of the opinion that this wasn’t intentionally done.
Solution: Viewing the cards upside down they spelled Eloise. Lake Eloise was up the road.
My two cents: Problems. We’ve got problems.
There were a lot of inconsistencies in this one. Is it one kidnapper or more than one? The story started out with the police looking to pin this on TJ, but very shortly started referring to ‘kidnappers’ and ‘they’.
If TJ kidnapped this kid, why did he chain him to the bed in his own cabin if he planned to hit the road and take him to Lake Eloise?
Sgt. Miller figured as there was no food or gas around they must be headed to a larger area that had those resources. If you were going to kidnap somebody and run wouldn’t you have a full tank of gas and some food for yourself? Maybe he/they planned to stop at the side of the road and eat bark. My point is they wouldn’t necessarily be heading towards the food/gas area. They might be headed to a remote area where they were going to camp.
There wasn’t food or gas around for 40 miles, yet the place is littered with burger wrappers. That’s a long way to drive for a Big Mac.
The boy has a monogrammed handkerchief? What kid do you know carries that around? Maybe his grandpa would, but no college kid would. The author needed a clue…she put one in. But it’s not remotely believable.
There was nothing at all in the room but there was a deck of cards. How convenient. How did the victim get to handle the cards with his hands chained to the pipes over the bed? With his toes?
This bum TJ has an off-shore bank account?
Sgt. Miller saw fresh tires tracks, but no mention of footprints which might tell him how many people were involved. Okay… maybe there were none. Maybe they hopped straight from the cabin into the car.
The police can’t enter the cabin without a search warrant, which can be obtained very quickly in a situation like this.
Officer Polasky thought the 6-digits were a zip code. Lord save me from dumbasses.
So, let’s get to the star rating. The clue? Not believable in the manner it was presented. Motive? None mentioned. I supposed money. Like always. Police work? Not the brightest bulbs in the history of law enforcement. Whatever clues they found in the cabin can’t be used in court. These two officers are a defense attorney’s wet dream. Character believability? You have been reading my comments, right? Pacing and good writing? Not this time. This one missed the mark. This was a mess. For the first time I want to give a story a minus star rating.