Friday, April 17, 2015

Appearing in issue #16, April 20, 2015


Title:  Double vision

By Author:  Tracie Rae Griffith

  

Tag line:     Jackson’s business partner saw things a little too clearly!

Police characters:   Detective Kristine Johnson, Sgt. Bill Morgan

The gist:    Jackson’s business partner, Ken, accused him of embezzling.  He gave him seven days to return the money, but even then he was going to call the police and report the crime.  Jackson asked if they could talk further about it in Ken’s home office the next day.  They agreed to meet at noon.  Jackson decided to deal with Ken permanently and had no intentions of returning any of the money.  When he had a chance he slipped pills into Ken’s ever-present glass of bourbon in his office, he falsified documents to make it look like the company was losing money.  And he wrote a fake suicide note for Ken.  Then he waited and watched until Ken drank his liquor and slumped over the desk.  Using gloves he placed the empty pill container in the waste basket next to the desk, placed the falsified documents and suicide note under Ken’s hand.  He even took Ken’s reading glasses out of his pocket and placed them on the dead man’s face.   He then called 911.  He told police he thought it was a suicide.  When the detectives arrived, Jackson told them that the business had been losing money, that Ken had poor health issues, (rattling off several health problems),  a failed marriage, and that he drank too much.  When asked who inherits Ken’s shares in the business, Jackson admitted he would, but added a failed business isn’t worth much.

A week later Jackson was shocked to find the two detectives at his door.  They arrested him.  Detective Johnson told him that his business partner saw things a little too clearly and that’s why Ken killed him.

Crime scene:    The office of Jackson and Ken.

Clues:    The reading glasses.

Suspects:   Suicide or Jackson the business partner.

Red herrings:    None.

Solution:  At the time of his death Ken was wearing contacts.  He would never have put reading glasses over his contacts.  The police knew the scene had been set up.

My two cents:    I thought the story read well, and was paced in a brisk manner.  The characters were believable and there was ample motive.  There were no problems with the police work, and I noticed this author kept it simple in that department; no time of death, no witnesses to sequester for questioning, no initial crime scene or patrol officers arriving.  Simple is good.  Not much chance to go wrong. 

My only gripe is the contact thing.  The reader is supposed to be able to figure out the perp by the body of the story (no pun intended).  How would the reader know the guy wore contacts?  And why would he have reading glasses in his pocket if he wore contacts?   Ken and Jackson had been business partners for at least a year according to the story, yet Ken didn’t know his partner wore contacts?  He knew plenty of other health details that he gave the police, even high cholesterol.

If I were going to commit suicide by pills, I’d down the pills and wait for death.  I don’t think I’d be sure to put the RX container in the trash.  It would be right there on my desk next to the glass.  Yet, I’ve seen that done many times in these stories.  Curious. 

It’s too bad WW gave the whole thing away in the tag line.   Even the title is a giveaway. Why do they do that? 
4 Stars…because the reader is not able to figure it out.

16 comments:

Jody E. Lebel said...

Received this in my e-mail today. Always nice to hear from nice people. The return email address is from a different Michael than the one who drops by from time to time.

"Hello Ms. Lebel,

I found your blog a few months ago shortly after I had submitted a mini mystery to Woman’s World. I appreciate your blog for several reasons, but most importantly, it provides me an opportunity to view all of the stories that are being published along with your critique, which by the way, is very insightful.

I find myself viewing your blog several times a month and it has truly helped me gain an understanding into the breakdown of the mini mysteries. I look forward to the day when I will see my stories (positive thinking here) published in Woman’s World, and then here for you and your followers to critique.

Michael"

Chris said...

Nice to have a message of appreciation sometimes, isn't it, Jody. Fingers crossed for Michael.

I agree about this story, good pacing and decent plot, but like you I was also a bit peeved about those contacts. A hint about Ken having red, watery eyes that day, or Jackson noticing a recent optician's appointment in his diary or something, would have given us a clue that he had started wearing them. Ken having his reading glasses in his pocket didn't bother me, though, as a lot of people keep their glasses with them in case they need to take their lenses out for some reason. Otherwise, a pretty good story.

Mary Ann said...

I agree. There is no way for the reader to figure this one out--and isn't that what a Solve-it-yourself mystery is all about? I liked the idea of the "double vision" as a giveaway, but felt cheated that I couldn't have guessed it from the text.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@Mary Ann

I hope Tracie Rae will drop by and tell us what WW changed. I know she said they changed the title.

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Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Berita Thanks for stopping by. Always enjoy comments from my readers.

Tracie Rae said...

Hi!

Not much was changed, but an important sentence was left out.

"He watched the glint go out in his victim's eyes." The glint was supposed to refer to the contacts.

Keep writing, everyone!

Tracie Rae

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Tracie Rae
Thanks for leaving us a post. I never would have thought of contacts as being the 'glint' though. Contacts don't die. If they did indeed produce a glint, it would still be there in the man's eyes. A 'glint going out' refers to life leaving the body, so I still wouldn't have gotten it. To me it would have been better for the police to find some contact lens fluid in his desk or some dry eye contact drops in his pocket. Other than that, it was a great story. :)

bettye griffin said...

This story was well written, but I don't like mysteries where the solution comes out of left field and wasn't previously mentioned or even hinted at. As a reader, I felt cheated. I would definitely not give this one 4 stars. I'm surprised at everyone's generosity.

Chris said...

If a glint goes out in someone's eye it's either through disappointment, or the life leaving their body, not an indication that they wore contact lenses. Sorry, Tracie Rae but that's not a clue I could ever have drawn that conclusion from.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Bettye
To be consistent and to avoid my personal likes and dislikes, the stars are given out in five different areas: motive, police work, pacing/writing, character work, and clue. This story had four things working for it, but a missing/poor clue. So it got 4 out of the 5 stars. Once the star rating is given, then I take the liberty to dish out some snark if I feel like the story deserves it.

Mary Jo said...

Tracie Rae, sometimes it is hard to think of just the right phrase to offer a clue but not hit the reader in the face with it. I was thinking you might have said something about the victim's "glassy eyed stare" to hint at the contacts. I think mysteries are very hard to write.

Good grief, what a robot question now. Soups on! Oh, now it is just numbers. Yiiiiiiiii!

Tamara said...

My lip is stuck out a little. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I got a lecture from Johnene on one of my rejections about the necessity of including a clue in the story for the discerning reader to see. Yet, lately, I'm noticing that, increasingly, clues are placed in the solution box rather than in the story. Curious about this.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Tamara.

"Curious about that". As you should be. There's no clear direction from WW it seems. No consistency. And the next story, which I'll post tomorrow, has the same problem. It's all about what tickles Johnene's fancy these days.