Friday, July 10, 2015

Appearing in issue #, July 6, 2015

Title:  While the cat’s away …

By Author:  Tracie Rae Griffith


Tag line:    Taking advantage of residents’ absences someone – who? – had burgled several houses in the neighborhood …

Police characters:   Detective Kristine Kay, Sgt. Bill Morgan

The gist:    Three houses within a mile radius were broken into while the residents were away.  The crimes took place over a period of about a week.  Same MO:  entry gained through a broken window.  No fingerprints left.  All items taken were small.

House #1:  The resident had stopped his mail and paper delivery while he was out of town.  His travel agent and his ex-wife knew about his trip.  Missing: iPad.

House #2:  The resident did not stop her mail and papers, and they were noticeable on her steps.   She didn’t tell anyone that she’d be gone.  Her trip was spur of the moment.  Missing:  laptop.

House #3:  The lady told her elderly neighbor so she could pick up her mail and papers, and she had a timed nightlight.  Her theft occurred on a Sunday.  Missing:  jewelry.

What did they all have in common?

Crime scene:   Residential homes.

Clues:    Property was small.  All received mail and paper delivery.

Suspects:   Mailman or the paperboy.

Red herrings:    None.

Solution:   The paperboy knew who was out of town from the stop-paper order on one home, seeing the piled up papers on another, and observing the old lady taking in her neighbor’s paper. The mailman was eliminated as a suspect because one of the burglaries occurred on a Sunday.

My two cents:   This was a decent little who-dunnit.  I was leaning towards the mailman because we don’t have paperboys anymore here so I didn’t think of that, but I did miss the Sunday clue.  I guess it would be odd to see the mailman in the neighborhood on a Sunday.

Clue:  Good clues.  They were believable and different enough to make you think about them.

Motive:  None given, but it was a kid doing the stealing.  Kids don’t really need a big motive.

Police Work:  No problems that I could see.

Writing:  The story moved along well.  The author discussed the first theft, the one where the burglary involved a stop order for the paper, at the end of her story, sort of sneaking in how the paperboy began his thought process .  Very clever.

Characters:  The police characters are not memorable, but they’re not terrible either.  The other characters were believable.


Elizabeth said...

Yes, this was a great little mystery. I've been guessing most of the solutions recently, but this one went right over my head, so I'll give Ms. Griffith five stars as well.

Tamara said...

I guessed the common denominator, but I don't always judge the quality by that. I still think it was a good story and a clever clue. Good for you, Tracie Rae.

Peter DiChellis said...

A fresh, clever concept. But the clues confuse me. (I'll confess I did not read the story, so maybe I'm way off-base here.) How would the paperboy see the neighbor pick up the newspaper? Was neighbor there waiting for the paper, rather than picking it up after the delivery was made? (By then the paperboy would have left.) And wouldn't the mailman return to burglarize the homes, including perhaps on a Sunday, rather than break in while on duty in his recognizable uniform?

Mary Jo said...

Yeah, I thought it was probably the mailman, too. Our "paperboys" drive a car and toss the paper in the gutter on their way by. Peter has it right as far as I am concerned, and he didn't even read the story.

Tracie Rae should create a continuing set of detectives and have her own brand. She is really on a roll.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Mary Jo. I believe these two cops have been in her stories before. The female detective always solves the crime even though she's with her male sergeant. They're not very developed though. I think she could give them a love interest or some other kind of personality and run with it.

Jody E. Lebel said...


It's conceivable that the old lady watches for the paperboy and comes out to get it when it's delivered...and she went over and got the neighbor's too when the lady went out of town. The paperboy, I'm assuming, is on a bike going through the neighborhood from house to house. He can see what's going on.

Now, the mailman. He knew about the mail stopping for one of the houses, and he could see the mailbox getting full on another, but he didn't know the about the third person who was out of town and was having the old lady get her mail.

So between that and the fact that it happened on a Sunday when the paperboy was there and the mailman wasn't led the police to take a closer look at the paperboy.

No, it's not a perfect solution wrapped up in a bow, but it's not bad either. I've surely seen worse on WW stories.

Chris said...

I thought this was excellent. I didn't figure it out, although all of the info needed to do so was there for me, so I like that. Tracie Rae wrote a good 'un, in my opinion, and the five star rating is well deserved.

bettye griffin said...

My money was also on the mailman...