Saturday, February 11, 2023

"Broken Hearted Killers" - Chapter Ten

The following blog entry is one chapter in “Broken Hearted Killers,” a serial novella written by 16 Writers Who Kill. To read the complete story, please begin with Chapter One, published on the WWK blog on February 2, 2023.

By Marilyn Levinson

Helen breathed a deep sigh of relief when Gus showed up at Iris’s condo ten minutes later.

“This really isn't a good idea, us being here,” he said as soon as he entered. “You should call Detective Torres and let him know what you've discovered.”

Helen dismissed his comment with a wave of her hand. “And tell him I entered Iris’s condo, a definite no-no in his book? No thank you. Besides, his men were already here and had access to whatever I’ve discovered. Only,” she grinned, “they probably have no idea what any of it means. Like we do.”

Gus eyed her with interest. He was a policeman, after all, and the instinct to follow leads that helped solve homicides had never left him. “That's true. We know the people who were closest to Iris.”

“Which means we probably can find out who murdered her.”

“I'm listening.”

Helen led him into the living room and sat down on the sofa. When Gus was settled at the other end of the sofa, she held up the red caboose.

“Where did you get that?”

“In the freight elevator coming up to Iris’s condo.” She held it out to him, but Gus raised a hand. “Just a minute,” he said as he pulled plastic gloves and a baggie from his pocket.

Helen smiled. “I see you came prepared.”

“Old habits.” Once Gus had his gloves on, he examined the small caboose carefully.

“The third miniature train car connected to Iris’s murder,” Helen said. “My neighbor Renee found one car here. Another miniature car was left with Charles when he was clobbered. This one was inside the padding of the freight car I rode up in to get here. It was dislodged when I grabbed the padding as the elevator jolted to a stop.”

“Interesting,” Gus said. “Why leave two mini train cars close to Iris’s condo? Unless the caboose got misplaced somehow and he or she needed a substitute. And he happened to be carrying around more than one train car.”

“Let’s come back to that later,” Helen said. “This is the red envelope Renee told me about. I don't know why the CSI team didn't take it with them to test for fingerprints but notice the return address.”

“Philip’s. Either he murdered Iris—for some reason I can’t imagine why and wants to get caught—or someone is trying to frame him.”

“Because they’re angry at him?” Helen asked.

“Or they think he’d make a good patsy.”

“What are you doing?” Helen asked as Gus pulled another plastic bag from his pocket and placed the envelope inside.

“The police left it so it’s fair game to take it for clues. I still have connections with the department and can have someone check the fingerprints on the envelope. I expect it will have several pairs of prints. None of them will mean a thing if the person isn't in the system.”

Helen smiled. Calling Gus had been the right thing to do. But first she had to check something. “Gus, tell me honestly—did you marry Iris recently?”

His answer was a loud guffaw. “Helen honey, I just got divorced and don’t plan to marry again, at least not in the near future and never to someone like Iris. But why would you ask something like that?”

“Because a realtor said Iris had just bought a two-million-dollar home as a gift for her new husband. She didn’t know his name, only that he had a full head of silver hair.” She felt herself blush. “And he was good looking.”

“Well, thank you, Helen, but I swear it isn’t me.” Gus stood. “You sure found some interesting bits of information I’ll be happy to pursue.”

“Wait! There’s one more. Perhaps the most important one.” Helen showed him the photo of Iris and Charles looking at model trains while Ashley glared at them.

Gus held the photo in his gloved hands and studied it carefully. “Interesting. What do you make of this?”

Pleased to be asked her thoughts on the matter, Helen said, “For one thing, it opens up the possibility that either Iris or Charles or both of them have an interest in model trains. That would mean either one or both might own model trains.”

“Good deduction,” Gus said. “We’ll have the red caboose checked for prints, of course. But Iris is the victim here. And so is Charles.”

“In which case, I’m afraid my deductions lead to me Ashley Ahlgren. Look how angry she is, seeing Iris and Charles together.”

Gus raised his eyebrows. “Does Ashley have the hots for Charles?”

“From what this picture tells us, I’d say she does. Or did recently. I know my neighbor Renee has a crush on Charles. We’ll have to check that out. Renee was the person who found Iris this morning. Maybe she was angry to find out that her friend had married the man she cared for.”

“Okay, but getting back to Ashley, I thought she’d set her sights on Philip.”

Helen grimaced. “Maybe that’s because she realized she couldn’t have Charles and, as she told you, if her ex-husband knew she had a significant other he’d leave her be.”

“And Iris made a point of telling her she was going to go after Philip herself to make sure he was no longer interested in Ashley.”

Helen nodded. “Iris was malicious.”

“Yes, she was.” Gus studied Helen. There was pity in his eyes. “Especially when she went after other women’s men.”

# # #

A former Spanish teacher, Marilyn Levinson writes mysteries, romantic suspense, and novels for kids. Her books have received many accolades. As Allison Brook she writes the Haunted Library series. DEATH OVERDUE, the first in the series, was an Agatha nominee for Best Contemporary Novel in 2018. The seventh book in the series will be out in the fall of 2023. Other mysteries include the Golden Age of Mystery Book Club series, the Twin Lakes series, and GIVING UP THE GHOST. Her juvenile novel, RUFUS AND MAGIC RUN AMOK, was an International Reading Association-Children's Book Council Children's Choice. It will soon be reissued, followed by three more books in the series. AND DON’T BRING JEREMY was a nominee for six state awards. Marilyn lives on Long Island, where many of her books take place. She loves traveling, reading, doing crossword puzzles and Sudoku, and chatting on FaceTime with her grandkids.

Marilyn's website:


  1. Oh, it's coming together so nicely!

  2. Ah, more leads to follow. Where will they take us?

  3. So good! I hope it isn’t Gus… :) I like him!

  4. I love how Helen and Gus’ relationship has been portrayed. So many puzzle pieces to fit together!