Friday, August 28, 2015

Appearing in issue 33, August 17, 2015

Title:  Don’t bank on it

By Author:  Phyllis Whitfield


Tag line:    When it came to identifying the thief, the clear-eyed detective did a better job than the surveillance camera!

Police characters:   Detective Beth Smart and her assistant (?) Charlie Young

The gist:    Brenda, who works in a jewelry story and was working late doing inventory, was getting in her car to make a bank deposit (a whole week’s worth) when someone hit her and took the money pouch out of  her canvas bag.  She said it was dark in the parking lot and she didn’t see who did it. She said she normally puts the money in her purse but used the canvas bag this time because she was going to pick up sandwiches and soda on her way back for everyone.

 Employees, Sarah and Billy, heard her scream and came running out but they didn’t see the culprit.  Billy is Sarah’s boyfriend.  Billy wears glasses. Billy told the detective that a strange guy came in the store today asking about expensive watches.  He didn’t ‘look’ right and Noel, another employee, thought he acted weird. Noel was acting nervous in front of the police, tugging at his tie. 

About this time the owner comes running in.   He yelled at Brenda who then burst into tears. He told her putting the money in a canvas bag was a bad idea, that it was sure to attract attention.  He said things like, “Can’t any of you do the right thing unless I’m here to tell you what to do?”

The surveillance camera lens was blocked by a large tree branch and didn’t capture the crime.

Detective Smart didn’t need the surveillance footage to know who stole the money.

Crime scene:   Jewelry story parking lot.

Clues:    The canvas bag.

Suspects:   This so-called weird guy, or one of the employees who might have seen Brenda put the money in the canvas bag.

Red herrings:    The weird guy.  The nervous tugging on the tie.  The author mentioned one guy wore glasses.  I thought maybe the cops would be able to see a glint of eye glasses in the surveillance footage…but that didn’t happen.

Solution:   The owner knew the money was in the canvas bag.  He wouldn’t know that unless he stole it.  He had a gambling debt and was also going to file an insurance claim.   He knew the surveillance camera was blocked by a branch.

My two cents:   There’s a link missing here.  Brenda normally puts the money in her purse.  The owner knows that.  So why did he grab the canvas bag? 

Brenda was going to pick up sandwiches and soda for everyone … so she took the canvas bag?  What?  The deli doesn’t have bags?

What dumbass makes a deposit once a week?

The tag line doesn’t work.   At all.

Clue:    The canvas bag is the clue but in the big picture it didn’t work.

Motive:    Greed, debt.  Stupidity.  Oh, wait, that’s not a motive.

Police Work:  I don’t understand a detective having an assistant.  What is that?  Detectives don’t have assistants.  They’re not clerical staff; they’re a para-military organization.

Writing:  Well…it rolled along okay.  The angry, mean boss making Brenda cry was a good tactic.  It took our attention away from the fact that a clue was being given.

Characters:   Nothing awful.  Nothing notable.

One star for hiding the clue well.


bettye griffin said...

I didn't much care for this story. Too many red herrings. I couldn't figure out how the owner knew the employee had changed where she put the money. I admit I missed the part about it being a weekly deposit entirely. But how many people pay for jewelry with cash, I wonder?

Chris said...

I do still use cash in stores I'm unfamiliar with, as I've had my card details cloned once too often to trust them all, so that didn't worry me at all. And I guess the store owner would recognise what a cash-bag looked like and, seeing his employee holding one, would automatically know the money must be in that this time. You're right, though, it was a loose thread. All in all, this was an okay mystery for me, not brilliant, but not especially groanworthy either.

Mary Jo said...

I guess I just have to say it, the "owner" in this mystery was so terrible in every way, you didn't need a clue to decide he was the guilty party.