"Crown Jewel," by Joseph S. Walker, in Moonlight and Misadventure, edited by Judy Penz Sheluk, Superior Shores Press, 2021.
The publisher sent me a copy of this book.
This cheerful romp is the second appearance here by Walker.
Like all genres the mystery field is full of repeating tropes. Locked rooms. Dying messages. Private eyes with drinking problems.
And identical twins. Lots of interesting ways to play with identical twins. Whodunit when both who's look alike?
The late great Jack Ritchie loved mocking such memes and in one story his cop hero was broken-hearted when he realized that the identical twins had nothing to do with the solution to the crime. So sad.
Which brings us to today's adventure, which is a tale of obsession. Obsession tends to be funny or tragic depending on how close you are standing to the shrapnel. this one is pretty funny.
Keenan Beech is a compulsive collector of vinyl, and his golden fleece is The Beatles, better known as the White Album. You see, the first few million copies have a number stamped on the cover and collectors like Keenan keep buying, buying, buying them, trying to get closer to the elusive lower numbers. Yeah, obsessive.
But that's not his big problem. That would be his identical twin Xavier. Keenan is a hard working guy; Xavier is an unsuccessful scoundrel. And when a record store offers Keenan a rare copy of the White Album for a mere five grand Xavier somehow gets his hands on it first by, duh, pretending to be Keenan.
Can our hero somehow steal the album back? And if he does, will that just be the beginning of his troubles? A cautionary tale for all the obsessive collectors out there.