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.