Title: Color me scared
By Author: Robin Kristine Ireland and Tracie Rae Griffith
Tag line: When the sergeant stopped at the salon for a manicure, she got the kind of break she wasn’t expecting!
Police characters: Sgt. Kelly Winslow
The gist: The bank has been robbed two days ago. Sgt. Winslow and the rest of the force had been working nonstop on the case, but Winslow had today off. It was a Sunday. Their prime suspect was Lee Simon, a former convict. His old van had been spotted at the scene and found hours later at the edge of town, the engine blown. Speculation had him still in the area, perhaps walking back through the woods to his ex-wife or to try to get another car from his buddies. Winslow was at the salon getting her nails done. She shook her head, trying to forget the case on her day off. The usually chatty salon owner, Marie, was quiet, and her associate was absent. When Winslow asked about the partner, she was told Janice was picking her kids up from school. Marie tried to get Sgt. Winslow to use a color today instead of the normal clear polish she always got. Winslow declined. Marie persisted saying she had some new colors. She suggested Sunset, and placed the bottle in front of Winslow on the table. When Winslow again said no thank you, Marie suggested the color Onward, and placed that next to the first bottle. Later on the manicurist picked up a bottle of color and said she highly recommended it, calling it Summertime.
Winslow’s studied Maries’ eyes and Marie gave a little nod. Winslow put a finger to her lips to indicate that Marie should remain quiet. She pulled her gun from her purse and headed to the storeroom at the back of the store where Simon was hiding crouched behind a stack of boxes. She apprehended him and let Janice, who was bound and gagged, out of the closet.
How did she figure out where he was?
Crime scene: Bank robbery.
Clues: The nail polish names. The day of the week.
Suspects: Only one, Lee Simon. The mystery to solve was his location.
Red herrings: None.
Solution: The nail polish colors Sunset, Onward and Summertime spelled out SOS. Also as it was Sunday, Janice couldn’t have been picking her kids up from school. Sgt. Winslow knew something was up.
My two cents: I think this story was overdone and had some believability problems. My nail salon is closed on Sunday. I would have placed the story on a Saturday just to avoid any conflict in any reader’s mind. The authors were trying to think outside the box and present us with a fresh story, but I think they got caught up in trying to produce a clever clue.
Clue: If the bad guy is hiding in the back room crouched under some boxes, couldn’t Marie have just written out a quick note to the sergeant while she kept up her friendly chatter? “Help.” “He’s in the back.” All the color nonsense was a bit over the top and iffy at best. That Janice was picking her kids up from school was a good hint.
Motive: We don’t need to know the bank robber’s motive. This isn’t that kind of story. I don’t penalize a story by holding back a star for motive when one isn’t necessary.
Police Work: A couple of problems. First of all when you have a major crime, all days off and leaves are cancelled. Sgt. Winslow would never have gotten a day off only two days after a bank robbery in her city. Maybe… MAYBE … a lowly officer, but never a sergeant. Bank robberies are federal crimes. The FBI is called in. “Where’s your sergeant, we’d like to speak to her and see her files.” “Oh, she's off today getting her nails done.” WTF?
Next, she’s trying to relax and get the case off her mind. That would never happen. The police are so pumped up, they live, eat, and dream about the case.
Off duty cops often do carry their ‘weapons’. They don’t refer to them as guns.
Writing: I liked the fact that his old car broke down, but there was no mention of having interviewed the ex-wife or that they checked on the buddies. Why didn’t the bad guy just put the two women in the closet and ride off in one of their cars? It’s been two days and he’s still in town? The story mentioned he was holding a knife when he was apprehended. Where is his gun? Did he rob the bank with a knife? I'm assuming he got some loot from the hold-up. He couldn't pay one of his buddies to drive him out of town? He's holed up in the back of one of the town's businesses?
Characters: The sergeant was not believable in her actions. The manicurist was not believable in the way she chose to tip off the cops. All she had to do was dial 911 and hang up. The cops respond to those kinds of calls. She didn’t think of that, she didn’t think to mouth ‘help’ to the sergeant, she didn’t think to write a note on the sergeant’s bill… but she figured out SOS with the names of nail polish colors? Sorry, Tracie, it all left me shaking my head. This story wasn’t up to your usual good standards.