Can you solve this mini-mystery?
MURDER DONE WRITE
By Richard Ciciarelli
Looks like a suicide,” Detective Jim Gold told his partner, Amy Rector. “Poison in that glass of vodka and tonic – the ME thinks it’s cyanide – and a note on the computer.”
“She looks familiar,” Rector said. “Where have I seen her before?”
“Probably in the newspapers. Her name is Linda Ferber. Up until last month she was an unpublished author. Then she signed a million-dollar deal with a romance publisher for a book she submitted, with three more to follow – one a year for three years.”
Rector read the note on the computer screen. “I’m sorry for what I did to the girls. I’ll never be able to write three more books. I can’t live with this humiliation.”
“Okay,” she said, “who are ‘the girls’ she referred to?”
“We found the names of three women in an address book. They were under the heading WRITERS GROUP.”
“Contact them and have them come down to the station.”
The next day three women sat around a table in an interrogation room. Guest badges identified them as Edna Pace, Caroline Baxter and Debbie Conway.
“I’m sure you all know by now that a friend of yours, Linda Ferber, was found poisoned in her home yesterday. We asked you ladies here to help us understand why she would commit suicide.”
“Linda was no friend of ours,” Edna Pace said. “We thought she was, but we were wrong.”
“What do you mean?”
“We all belong to a writers group,” Pace explained. “We meet once a month and read aloud what we’ve written and help each other in any way we can.”
“None of us has ever been published,” Caroline Baxter said, “but we all have high hopes.”
“Then, out of nowhere, Linda signs this huge book deal,” Debbie Conway said, “and we find out her book is really major parts of the books we three have been reading in group over the past year or so.”
“She stole my characters,” Edna Pace said. “Their names, their backgrounds, even the secondary characters.”
“She stole my plot,” Caroline Baxter said. “A female doctor and a male patient have a love affair amid murders in a hospital.”
“I was doing research into medicine,” Debbie Conway added, “and Linda stole that and used it in her book.”
“When did she write that?” Edna Pace asked. “Linda never wrote anything original in her life.”
Rector opened a folder and read a copy of Linda Ferber’s suicide note to the three women.
“Hummph,” Caroline Baxter grunted. “Did she spell humiliation right?”
Rector ignored the question and asked, “Do any of you know where she could have gotten hold of cyanide?”
All three women shook their heads.
“A coward to the end,” Debbie Conway said. “Tonic water would help hide the bitter almond taste of cyanide.”
“Wasn’t cyanide a part of your book’s plot, Caroline?” Edna Pace asked.
“Yes. In my book a male nurse is secretly poisoning patients in the hospital where my heroine works. This creates dramatic tension because she’s worried her lover/patient might be the next victim.”
“And that,” put in Debbie Conway, “is exactly how the publisher’s publicity ad described Linda’s book.”
“And critics who read advance copies called her the next Barbara Cartland for her creativity,” Caroline Baxter said.
“Our creativity,” Edna Pace shouted. “Our creativity.”
Rector dismissed the ladies and sat back in her chair. Detective Jim Gold entered and sat across from her.
“You have a strange look on your face,” he said. “Something wrong?”
“Yes,” Rector nodded. “I’m not sure Linda Ferber committed suicide. I think we have a murder on our hands.”
WHAT MAKES RECTOR BELIEVE FERBER WAS MURDERED?
Please click here to reveal the answer.
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