Title: Ball and Chain
By Author: John M. Floyd
Tag line: Joyce Cole said she was telling nothing but the truth about her ex-husband. Angela Potts wasn’t so sure…
Police characters: Sheriff Jones, amateur sleuth Angela Potts
The gist: Angela’s cousin, Joyce Cole, according to Angela, is a compulsive liar and she hates Benny, her ex-husband. (1) This story starts with about two columns of Sheriff Jones going to get Angela, where’s she fishing, to come with him because the victim of a crime (Cole) would only let Angela interview her. Twenty minutes later in Cole’s living room, Cole was glaring at Angela. (Don’t know why, because she asked for Angela.) Cole tells them that her ex-husband, who is out on parole, entered her house last night while she was asleep and stole $1000 out of her cookie jar. She said she locked the house up tight last night, latching every window, locking and chaining every door, put the garage door down, and then she went and checked everything twice. She said she keeps a key under a loose brick on the patio that her ex knew about. She said, “This will send him back to jail, right? And it has nothing to do with the fact that he left me.” (2) Cole pointed to a wire stripper tool lying on the carpet, saying her ex must have dropped it. Angela tells the sheriff he better check it for prints. When she said that Cole’s eyes got wide and she said, “He’s an electrician of course it’s his, and it’s too small for prints, right?” (3) When Jessica Fletcher … oh sorry, I meant Angela Potts said the tool looked new and yes there would be prints on it (by the way where’s the sheriff? Playing games on his iPhone?) Cole said “There won’t be any prints because he was wearing gloves.” (4) When Angela said she thought Cole told her she was sleeping, Cole’s face went pale and she started sweating. (5) Angela accused Cole of lying and trying to frame her ex-husband. Cole broke down crying and admitted her act.
Now, here’s the best part. Crackhead Sheriff Jones asked Angela, “How’d you know?” How did she know? HOW DID SHE KNOW?! (My head just exploded. Give me a moment to go get a paper towel to clean up the mess.)
Crime scene: The real crime is that somehow Sheriff Jones not only made it through the police academy, but got a JOB in law enforcement.
Clues: See the BIG 5 above. Plus the fact that the door was chained from the inside so even a key wouldn't get him in.
Suspects: I think Sheriff Jones is sleeping with the victim. Hey, it’s just as dumb as everything else in this story.
Red herrings: The red herring is the fact that Jones is a cop.
My two cents: The sheriff gets Angela to interview the victim. WTF. Angela tells the sheriff he better check the tool for prints. I guess they didn’t teach him that at the academy. Good thing she was there.
Clue: Yes, there was sure a bunch. Very blatant. Talk about spelling it out.
Motive: Yeah, she had one. Hate is a motive.
Police Work: Don’t get me started.
Writing: Overdone. The ‘victim’ went pale, started sweating, questioned the fact that fingerprints could be gotten off the tool… ad nauseum. She might as well have been wearing a sign that said “I did it”.
Characters: Getting dumber with each story.