Sunday, March 21, 2021

The Phone Message, by Robert Cummins


"The Phone Message," by Robert Cummins, in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, March/April 2021.

 I think it has been years since I reviewed an author's first story here. This is a very nice one.

The beginning is likely to remind you of Columbo.  In the first scene Carole Donaldson calmly kills her husband.  Police detective Wesley Lovett is in charge of the investigation.  Ms. Donaldson, just as calmly,  informs him that she had motive for the crime.  Tons of motive. But she also appears to have an unbreakable alibi.

So far, as I said, so Columbo.  But what makes this story unusual is that Wes begins to wonder whether he wants to break the alibi.   That gives a nice variation on the usual cat-and-mouse game.

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