Greed Will Get You Every Time

Patricia Bradley Mystery Question

I’m always amazed when one of my books ends up somewhere I don’t suspect it will.

My sister texted me the photo at the left–her husband takes all kinds of sale magazines and was quite surprised to open one and find my book just below Kate Smith’s CD. I’m in good company!

After a week of snow and ice and near-zero temperatures, I am ecstatic to be at 70° today!

Now for last week’s Mystery Question: It’s November 1, 1942, and a man walking his dog in Central Park discovers a woman’s body in the tall grass. The fact she had no purse or money suggested it was a mugging gone bad–except the woman still wore a gold necklace. She’d  married a man five months earlier. When he was told of her death, he was unconcerned and glad to be rid of her. He had an airtight alibi–she had met her death while he was at a dance hall where dozens of witnesses could testify to his presence there. And the police couldn’t ignore the alibi. If you were the detective what could the following clues tell you?

  1. The dance hall was only a few hundred yards from the murder scene.
  2. Grass seeds were found under the body and also in the husband’s pockets and cuffs, but he claimed he had not been in Central Park for over two years and the seeds had to have been picked up at Tremont Park in the Bronx.
  3. At one point he changed his story and admitted he’d been in Central Park in September.
  4. The wife lived with her parents after leaving her husband after only a few weeks of marriage because of his womanizing. The parents showed the police threatening letters he’d written to his wife.

Congratulations! You all picked up on the grass seeds! He claimed the seeds in his pocket came from Trenton Park, but the seeds he had in his pocket were extremely rare and only grew in one location in New York City–Central Park. Also, when the detectives visited the dance hall, they discovered how he could have slipped out and walked the very short distance to the crime scene.

Now for this week’s Mystery Question: The year is 1986 and a forty-year-old woman dies from cyanide poisoning from a bottle of extra-strength Excedrin that had been tampered with. Two more bottles of cyanide-laced Excedrin were found. Then a woman called the FBI, concerned her recently deceased husband may have been a victim of the contaminated pain reliever as she had bought two bottles of the pain reliever for her husband. His autopsy recorded the cause of death as emphysema, but he had been an organ donor so the FBI had a sample of his blood. Tests revealed he had indeed died of cyanide poisoning. What was the wife’s undoing? All of the statements are true. Take the clues below and construct the crime:
  1. The wife claimed to have bought the two bottles at separate stores. But of the 740,000 capsules sold throughout the area, only five bottles were contaminated and of those five, two had been found at the victim’s home, bought at separate drug stores.
  2. Traces of algicide used in home fish tanks were found in all of the capsules; a fish tank was found in the victim’s garage.
  3. The FBI agents canvassed local pet stores with a set of photos of middle-aged women, asking employees if any of them had sold Algae Destroyer to one of the women in the photos. One clerk readily identified the wife because she had a little bell attached to her purse that had jingled all over the store.
  4. The victim’s insurance policy paid $31,000 for natural death and $176,000 if he had died from an accident.

So these are the clues the FBI had. Can you reconstruct the crime? Leave your answer in the comments and I’ll enter you in a drawing for an ARC of Justice Betrayed. (digital for all addresses outside the US)

And, Kill Zone: Ten Deadly Thrillers is about to go away! It will be taken down at the end of the month. You can still buy the individual books, but each of them is $.99, grab your copy for $.99 for all ten!