Friday, May 29, 2015

Appearing in issue #21, May 25, 2015

Title:  Unhappy heirs

By Author:  Elizabeth Hawn

Tag line:     There’s nothing like the reading of a well to bring out the worst in people!

Police characters:   None.

The gist:    Helen’s will divided her assets equally between her three grandchildren.  When told this by Martha, the executor of the will, only Paula seemed happy.  Jake and Adam were unhappy claiming that Paula had plenty of money and that they needed it more.   Paula’s comment was that she worked hard and was a success and that grandma would never penalize her for that by leaving her a lesser share.  Grandma’s house and most of her assets were sold at auction.  When handed the list of items sold along with the selling price of the home though even Paula was not smiling.   Another list was given to each showing which family heirlooms Grandma wished to leave to each grandchild.  Jake grumbled that Paula’s list had more items of value, particularly a set of silverware, and told Paula she should sell the silver and divide the proceeds.  Paula responded that the silver was left to her because grandma knew she would keep it in the family whereas the boys would sell it.

The items the grandkids were left were stored in a storage unit in town.  They all drove to the facility.  A code was needed to unlock the front door, but no security cameras were seen.  This was noted by Adam who was the only one there when the code was entered by Martha.  The four of them then proceeded to the storage unit where Martha opened it using a key from her purse.   There was much complaining about how to move/ship/store the items that were left to them; heavy desks, boxes of old books, etc.  Paula was smiling though as she inspected not only the silverware but the china that was left to her.

That night each grandchild had their own bedroom.  They were sleeping in Helen’s home.  Helen slept on a pullout bed in the basement.  The next day  while the two boys were out (one was renting a trailer and one was going to a shipping company to get prices) it  was discovered that the silver was missing out of the storage unit.  Martha recalled that her purse had been in the living room all night.  Martha knew who had taken the silver.

Crime scene:    Storage unit.

Clues:    Only Adam was there when the front door code was entered.

Suspects:   Supposedly the 3 heirs.

Red herrings:    None.

Solution:   Only Adam was there when the front door code was entered.  He took the key out of Martha’s purse in the night and hid the silverware in one of the boxes of books his grandma had left him.

My two cents:    A female executor of a will is called an executrix.  

What woman goes to bed in the cellar and leaves her purse on the living room when there are strangers in the house?  None I know of.

We have to eliminate Paula right away as she was the only one happy with the will.  That leaves the two boys, of which only one was present when the code was entered.

You don’t have to be Sherlock to figure this one out. 

How stupid is Adam to think Paula wouldn’t notice one of her two items was missing from the storage unit the very next day.  Did he really think he was going to hide the silverware in a book box and ship it home, and that was going to be the end of it?  Did he not think Paula would call the police and report a theft the minute she realized it? 

Clue:  Yes, the story had a clue.  It was not cleverly hidden… but it was in the body of the story. 

Motive:  Clear motive.  Greed.

Police work:  None.

Writing:  Not particularly impressive.  Executor vs. executrix.  We have a woman leaving her purse unattended; phone, credit cards, money, car keys.   How convenient for the story, but not very believable.

Characters:   Cardboard characters, malcontents for men. 


Chris said...

I have to agree, this could have been improved with more work. The two male characters were too obviously the guys in the black hats - in fact they were so grasping, I wouldn't have left either of them a bean. It would have been nice to have the edges between the goodies and the baddies blurred more, so that we had to decide which of them wasn't as nice as they seemed.

The bit about Martha leaving her bag in the living room didn't dawn on me as an issue as I read the story but you're right, Jody, no woman would do that even in her own home when there were strangers staying. As for that bed in the basement, sounds divine!

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Chris. And yet, Besti pulled in a nice $500 for that story. Go figure.

Mary Jo said...

This story was so lame you have to wonder if all the available material was still sitting on Patricia s desk. Is this the best that Johnene had to work with? Well, lucky for the author.

There is a reason that little old ladies always carry their purse on their arm. Even Queen Elizabeth.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Mary Jo. I'm surprised this story made it to Johene's desk. We've had disgruntled heirs in quite a few stories so you'd think they'd be looking for fresh writing. I must say this was so obvious as to be a yawn. I wonder if WW thinks their readers are all old ladies? One thing is for sure... WW LOVES cozies, small town sheriffs, old lady sleuths, and SIMPLE solutions. And when I say simple, I mean no brainers.

So, ladies and gents, get writing and create some mini-mysteries that have all of the above.

Tamara said...

I'm working on one now. ha ha

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Tamara. Smart woman. Dull it down until you just can't stand it... and send it in.

Mary Jo said...

I just finished a mystery for WW. It came in at almost a thousand words, so I had to chip away at it to get down to 700. Now I wonder if it even makes sense. My question: When will be an appropriate time to submit it? I want to be sure it gets read...preferably by Johnene.

Jody E. Lebel said...

2 Mary Jo. That's the 60K question. I know that the publishing world practically closes down in August. Also the fall/winter holidays are not great times either. January is perfect. Late September, early October is good. June is good IMO. Don't wait until too late in July as they're all getting ready for vacation and start clearing off desks again.

I say send it in, gurl. Just make sure it sparkles so it gets past the first readers.

Tamara said...

OK, Jody. Stock up on red ink.

Chris said...

I just had another no, this time of a romance that I submitted in April... of LAST year! Okay, it did have a Seattle postmark, so it got to Johnene, but, honestly, fourteen months to respond. :¬{ At the start of this year, having assumed the story was either lost or rejected, I reworked it and submitted it to markets in Australia and Scandinavia, so it's already out there again. But these response times are getting crazy.

Mary Jo said...

If it is crazy for us, it must be totally insane for the WW editors. I doubt they are sitting on their hands. I wish they would communicate the problems so we might be more able to accommodate them. I have already resubmitted several of my no-show stories, romances and mysteries, from last year. Does anyone know what the situation really is?

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Chris

Well... at lease you know it's not a postal service problem. Congrats at making it to Johnene! You are now in the club. Don't forget to send in your

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Mary Jo. I'm hearing through the Internet that the reason things are wonky at Bauer is because they launched three new mags last year. Maybe the whole system is under pressure. Hopefully things will settle down and get back to the way they used to be. Corporations don't let the public in on their inner-office problems. The only way we'll learn anything is through leaks or press releases.

Chris said...

Jody, I've had loads of my subs forwarded to Johnene over the past ten years or so, but not a single one accepted. That's what's so frustrating. If Patricia sent everything straight back to me without a comment then I'd know I didn't stand a chance, but for a story to get to the second stage must mean she's seeing something there. So I just plod on and hope... At least with Mary Jo sending me the scans each week and giving me feedback on my subs - as do you, Betsi and Mary Ann - I feel there's a possibility that I'll get something past them one day.