Friday, May 22, 2015

Appearing in issue #20, May 18, 2015

Title:  Package deal

By Author:  John M. Floyd


Tag line:     Sheriff Jones was right in thinking that Angela Potts could help him deliver a thief to justice!

Police characters:   Sheriff Jones and amateur sleuth Angela Potts

The gist:    A neighbor saw a delivery man leave a package at her neighbor’s door.  She then saw a man dressed in dark clothes steal the package and walk into another neighbor’s house, said property being a rooming house with four tenants.  The neighbor was old, had bad vision, and it was past sundown when she saw this.

Sheriff Jones picked up Mrs. Potts and put her in the front seat of his squad car and they drove to the rooming house.  The landlord gathered all his tenants, except for one who was not home at the moment.  All the tenants were men.  Mrs. Potts told him it was not a good idea to interview them as a group, but he said it would be fine. Sheriff Potts asked if any of the men had seen anyone unusual around the neighborhood and explained the missing package problem.  They all denied having anything to do with it.  Just then the 4th man returned home.  Man #1 said he’s never stolen anything in his life.  Man #2 said even if he were inclined to steal he wouldn’t do it that way.  Man #3 said he’s never been in trouble.  Man #4 said he wouldn’t steal a package right off someone’s porch.

Sheriff Jones told Mrs. Potts she was right, he was going to have to interview them one at a time.  Mrs. Potts told him to not bother, she knew who did it.

Crime scene:    Neighborhood.

Clues:    Only the thief knew the details.

Suspects:  The 4 men in the rooming house and the landlord.

Red herrings:    None.

Solution:   Man #4 talked about not stealing a package off the front porch but he wasn’t there when that detail was revealed.

My two cents:    ((Yawn.))

Police work:  I don’t know what police academy Jones graduated from, but he sure doesn’t remember any of his training.  Even Mrs. Potts, a school teacher, knows enough not to interview suspects in front of each other. I don’t even want to talk about the fact that a civilian is in the front seat of a cruiser. 

Gawd help them all if he ever has to do a murder investigation.  In fact, if you want to kill someone, do it in his town.  I guarantee he won’t figure it out.   Hey… how about we knock off Mrs. Potts?  Jones will just have to retire I guess.

Motive:  None given.

Clue:  Yes, there was a clue.  Same old stuff we’ve heard a thousand times but there was a clue in the body of the story. 

Writing:  Nothing to write home about.  You have to wonder why the landlord wasn’t a suspect?

Character work:  Nothing remarkable.  Nothing makes you say ahhhh!  What fun!  Or … very clever!  Now look what you did.  You made me use three exclamation points.    Tsk.


Chris said...

Knew as soon as I read it that this one was in for a hammering, Jody. Not only did John explain why Angela had been brought along on the ride, he even flagged up the interviewing of the suspects together for you, just in case you didn't spot it! Just wish he'd explained WHY it was okay on this occasion. It felt like a device in order for the solution (the late arrival of the fourth suspect) to work, which I found a bit contrived. The whole thing hung on a situation that wouldn't happen in real life.

Enjoyed your comments about committing murder in Jones's town - I'll do that right after I get through bumping off the residents of Cabot Cove and St Mary Mead.

For me this was just an okay one from John. Not the most complex of plots or storylines but as you say, good that the clue was there, hidden in plain sight. You've got to admire Mr Floyd's success rate. He's truly got the knack as far as WW is concerned. Wish I had a tenth of it.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Chris. He found a winning combination, as far as WW in concerned, and he's running with it. Smart man. It is interesting to note that not ALL his Jones/Potts stories are contracted. He gets rejections on a good number of them. One has to wonder why when this particular, sort of dull one, got chosen.