Title: The cover-up
By Author: Joyce Laird
Tag line: Sheriff Clements quickly discovered which hand had been in the cookie jar!
Police characters: Sheriff Bob Clements, Deputy Jeff Long
The gist: Ms. Emma sat staring at an empty cookie jar, while her beloved cat sat in her lap. $800 was missing from the jar. Emma’s home was quite warm and all of the occupants were feeling the heat. Emma sat with her neighbor, May, her granddaughter, and her granddaughter’s boyfriend while the police questioned her. Emma had been gone for a few days, and neighbor, May, had been able to enter the house to care for the cat. Emma said her mailman knew she’d be gone, and also some of the seniors at her club. Emma’s granddaughter knew she was away. The granddaughter told the police that everyone knows that Grandma Emma keeps money in her cookie jar.
Emma left a spare key in the shed, which the handyman and a few others knew about. May told the police she hadn’t noticed anything out of the ordinary while Emma was away. While Emma was telling the details, Deputy Long groaned and looked away. Emma started to cry and when the sheriff tried to put a consoling hand on her arm, the cat hissed and tried to scratch the sheriff. May showed them the scratches she had on both of her arms that she got while feeding the cat. May started thinking, then told police that she did hear the cat yowling two nights ago. She said she went to check on the house but it was locked tight so she left. At that point the granddaughter spoke to her boyfriend, telling him he’d better go and get changed for his interview he had in an hour. The boyfriend nodded and wiped the sweat from his face with the sleeve of his sweater and got up to leave.
The Sheriff knew who the thief was.
Crime scene: Emma’s home.
Clues: The heat in the house, the cat that scratches, and the guy wearing the sweater.
Suspects: The way the story unfolded there were numerous suspects, including the handyman.
Red herrings: None.
Solution: The solution was a whopping 106 words long, when probably two sentences would have done it. The granddaughter’s boyfriend knew about the shed key, knew about the cookie jar, but didn’t expect to be pounced on by the cat. He wore the sweater to cover up the cat scratches.
My two cents: I’m having déjà vu with this story. Cat scratches and a long sleeved shirt. Seems like that’s been used more than once in the past year.
Police work. This loses this author one star because police don’t interview all of the suspects together.
Character work. When Emma was telling her story, Deputy Long was groaning and looking around. Nice guy. He’s sitting with the victim, an old lady who is upset, and he can’t act proper? There was no reason to have him act like a cad. It didn’t add anything to the story. I wish the cat had scratched him.
Motive. None was mentioned.
Clue. Kinda easy. It’s hot in the house and one guy has on a sweater. Duh.
Writing/pacing. Nothing to write home about. AND the solution was 106 words long. IMO more care could have gone into the story, and less fluff in the solution.
BTW: I’ve owned cats all my life. They don’t scratch you when you put down their food. They don’t jump on you and attack you when you walk in the house. I doubt this author has ever been around cats and thus I’m surprised she didn’t add the clichéd saucer of milk.