Title: The missing Mrs. Mooney
By Author: Elizabeth Palmer
Tag line: Once the detective reviewed the highlights of the case, she narrowed the list of suspects to one…
Police characters: Detective Faith Wood
The gist: Bank president, Gen Mooney, reported his wife missing. She didn’t show up for their anniversary dinner at the restaurant last night, her phone went straight to voice mail, and her new dress was still hanging on the closet door when Mr. Mooney finally went home to check on her. He claimed he had spoken to her yesterday as he left for work. He claimed she was first going to the gym and then had a salon appointment. None of her friends that he called, according to the husband, had spoken to her or saw her after she left the salon. Mr. Mooney feared that she had been kidnapped, although he hadn’t been contacted yet. Mr. Mooney had not brought a photograph with him to the police station but Det. Wood noted the report the husband had filed listed her as 5’6”, 120 pounds with brown eyes and blonde hair. When asked if he had a picture of his wife on his phone he glared at the cops and said his wife’s pics were on her own phone and the Internet and that she was always taking photos of herself.
Det. Wood interviewed the hairdresser who said Mrs. Mooney was there for a very long time getting her hair and nails done, and she had a facial. She said it took a long time to bleach her long hair as she wanted a completely new look. She told police that there was a bit of a scene when the first Mrs. Mooney walked in. The two wives exchanged venom. It was divulged that Mr. Mooney had been seen flirting with his personal trainer.
Det. Wood’s next interview was at the gym. She met with the woman Mr. Mooney was allegedly flirting with, a young, pretty blonde woman. This woman told Det. Wood that the ‘older woman’ had been in the gym the previous day. She said the wife was headed to the beauty salon when she left. The trainer made a catty remark about how the hairdresser had her work cut out for her. When asked if she had a relationship with Mr. Mooney, the trainer said no, adding that she doesn’t date married men, even ones with money.
Det. Wood went on-line to view the victim’s profile. The victim had posted that she was looking forward to her anniversary dinner with her husband. There were dozens of photos on the site, including shots of the wife and the personal trainer. Det. Wood noticed that the wife and the trainer looked quite alike except for their hair color. So much so that they looked like sisters that were ten years apart.
Just then Captain Bowen informed Det. Wood that Mrs. Mooney’s body had been found in Deer Lake. He said they suspected suicide. Det. Wood decided suicide was out as no woman gets her nails and hair done, posts how happy she is about her anniversary dinner on-line, and then goes and kills herself.
But she had a suspect.
Crime scene: Unknown.
Clues: The wife’s hair color. The husband glared at the cops when asked for a photo. Not sure why he was glaring, but it displayed strange behavior. I can tell you in real life distraught people, as well as guilty people, often behave oddly because they are under pressure.
Suspects: According to the story, the ex-wife, the girlfriend, or some random kidnapper.
Red herrings: None.
Solution: The husband killed his wife. He told the cops she was blonde, but she was a brunette the morning he told the cops he had last seen her.
My two cents: I thought this was a smartly written story. The clue was so well hidden (and I was looking for it) that I had to go back and read the story again. It was refreshing to read a good whodunit that was modern and not corny or clichéd. I realize it's not within the author's control, but even the tag line fit. Sometimes WW's tag line is so overt it gives the clue away. Although a complete blonde job is not 'highlighting' it was still a clever hint.
Motive: Spot on.
Police Work: No problems.
Writing: Nicely done. Paced well.
Characters: All believable. The story had a bit more about the detective feeling a bit dowdy in her uniform next to the pretty blonde, etc. I left those parts out for brevity but they did create a believable and likeable detective.