If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our April author interviews: Perennial author Susan Wittig Albert--4/5, Sasscer Hill, horse racing insider--4/12, English historical, cozy author, TE Kinsey--4/19, Debut author, Susan Bickford--4/26.

Saturday Guest Bloggers in April: Heather Baker Weidner (4/1), Christina Hoag (4/8), Susan Boles (4/29). WWK Saturday bloggers write on 4/15--Margaret S. Hamilton and on 4/22--Kait Carson.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th. In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

Linda Rodriquez has two pending book publications. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel will be released by Scapegoat Press on November 29th. Every Family Doubt, the fourth Skeet Bannion mystery, is scheduled for release on June, 13, 2017. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Linda here in June!

Cross Genre Publications anthology, Hidden Youth, will contain Warren Bull's "The Girl, The Devil, and The Coal Mine." The anthology will be released in late November 2016. The We've Been Trumped anthology released by Dark House Press on September 28th contains Warren Bull's "The Wall" short story and KM Rockwood's "A Phone Call to the White House." KM writes under the name Pat Anne Sirs for this volume.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.


Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Case of the Missing Wine

By Julie Tollefson

Empty wine bottle in the ditchI can count on fictional mysteries, especially cozies, to wrap up neatly, all loose ends tied, all questions answered. I’ve grown accustomed to resolution. Which makes The Case of the Missing Wine all the more frustrating.

The story begins at my son’s graduation party in May. It was a calm affair attended by a motley collection of family and friends (AKA the usual suspects). Pulled pork sandwiches and potato salad. Sodas for the youth. Adult beverages for the, well, adults. I chilled two bottles of white wine in the cooler with the beer on the back porch. During the party, we drank half of one bottle.

Fast-forward a couple of weeks. I open the refrigerator, where I’m sure I’ve stashed the unopened bottle only to find … cream and frappucino and ketchup and mustard and pickles, but no wine. Baffled, I check the bev fridge in the basement. Not there. Surely I didn’t leave it in the cooler on the porch? Nope, the cooler is empty.

Taking the next logical step, I quiz the teenager: Fess up, did you swipe my wine? His response: “A whole bottle? That would be stupid.” And he’s not stupid.

A day later, my husband and I took a lovely evening walk down our rural road. Birds sang in the trees. The sun sank low in the west. Fireflies winked in the shadows. And there, in the ditch more than half a mile from our home, we found my missing bottle of wine, empty and abandoned.

In a book, I guess this would be the midpoint of the story. Part one of the mystery is solved, but the answer only serves to deepen the intrigue. Who took my bottle of wine? Why did they leave the empty bottle in the ditch?

Using my keen detecting abilities, I’ve homed in on a couple of possible theories:

Theory 1: Someone from the party took the bottle when they left and tossed it after they drained the contents. This seems unlikely, given the character of our guests. But isn’t that what makes a good murder mystery work? The villain masks his true character and actions, misleads those around her until the surprise twist at the end, when the murderer is revealed.

Theory 2: I left the bottle on the back porch during party cleanup and someone—a friend, a neighbor, or a stranger—happened by and snatched it. We live a long ways from anyone, so this scenario is also unlikely. And unsettling. The thought that someone may have skulked around my house, evaded the dogs, and filched hot wine from my porch makes my skin crawl a bit. Just like a good thriller.

So now what? Do I interrogate every party guest until someone confesses? Do I check the locks on the doors an extra time before bed? Maybe I could set out another bottle of wine and the motion-activated camera we use to capture shots of wildlife in an attempt to catch the thief in the act.

Or do I let the mystery remain a mystery, a reminder that life is messy and, sometimes, not having all the answers is part of the fun.


Margaret Turkevich said...

the obvious solution is that someone at the party took the bottle of wine. A less obvious scenario is that someone in the weeks since the party took the bottle of wine out of your fridge.

Or, the empty bottle is roadside trash, unrelated to your party.

Fingerprints? Blood smears? DNA? Wine bottles make a dandy blunt weapon or in a pinch, substitute for a rolling pin for pie crust.

One of life's mysteries.

Grace Topping said...

Some things in life will always stay a mystery. And sometimes it's best not to know the rest of the story. But as Margaret suggested, use it as fodder for a mystery novel.

Warren Bull said...

I suspect the most honest and esteemed of your guests. The "least likely" person.

Jim Jackson said...

Alternative theory: Teenager, knowing parents would think it stupid to steal a whole bottle of wine (as opposed to stealing a glass from an opened on or watering the vodka), does just that with the ready excuse that such an act would be stupid.

Note that the wine had to be consumed between house and final resting point in ditch - unlikely by adult party goers since (1) they could have had more wine without stealing (the fact there was a partial bottle still opens means there weren't heavy wine drinkers) and (2) they had to chug it while driving -- not likely.

Have you considered using black powder to test for fingerprints and see if anyone starts acting nervous?

KM Rockwood said...

Have you considered a paranormal explanation?

We used to live in a house in Albion, Michigan, where things disappeared all the time. Now, we are not careful people, but this was all out of proportion to our usual "lost items." And sometimes, when we expressed frustration out loud, esp. in terms of "I really need my car keys (or whatever) they would reappear someplace totally obvious, like in the middle of the kitchen table, where several of us looking could not possibly have missed them.

After we moved away, we discovered that the house is featured in a book called, "Haunted Houses of Michigan."

Shari Randall said...

I do like KM's paranormal explanation!
Perhaps the teenagers chugged the wine, refilled the bottle with water so you wouldn't notice, then resealed it. You put it in the fridge - you're pretty sure you put it back in the fridge, right?
Then when you announced that you were going to use it, startled teen realizes that the jig is up and you will discover that the wine has turned into water. A backwards miracle! And trouble for the teen.
Or maybe not...

Julie Tollefson said...

Margaret and Grace - I am enjoying leaving it as one of life's mysteries!

Warren - I wonder whether the "least likely person" would be me? Maybe I set it all up and I'm just an unreliable narrator?

Julie Tollefson said...

Jim - You could be on to something there. It's entirely possible he's smart enough to think through that line of reasoning. As for thief needing to chug the wine before ditching the bottle, there's another possibility there, too: Perhaps it was such bad wine he or she couldn't actually drink it after all?

Julie Tollefson said...

KM - What a delicious alternate explanation! Our house is new and doesn't have a history, but perhaps the land we built on does?

Julie Tollefson said...

Ha! Shari - the backwards miracle! I love it!