To Fetch a Thief

Thank you so much for reading A Shot of Murder. I hope you enjoy this fun vignette featuring Gran who, as it turns out, has her own sleuthing skills. If you’d prefer to read this as an ebook, you can DOWNLOAD it here.

Bessie Stormont hadn’t even raised the brass knocker when the door flew open and Rose Cannon exclaimed her relief at seeing her.

“Thank heaven’s you’re here.”

Bessie had never seen the usually unflappable Rose in this state. “What on earth is going on?” she asked.

“Come in, you’ll never believe what’s happened. I can’t believe it. It’s just so awful.”

Bessie followed Rose into the sitting room. A tan-and black dog with long floppy ears waddled across the room to greet her.

“You got a dog?” Bessie bent down to give the animal a scratch behind the ears. Bessie had never had a dog, at least not since she was a young child and that was sixty-some years ago, but she did know that the first thing Rose would have to do with this one was to put it on a diet.

“The dog? Oh, no, I don’t know where it came from. Probably one of the people that came to set up the charity auction.” Her hands fluttered irritably. “That’s not important, anyway.”

“What has you in such a state, then?” Bessie took a seat on one of the comfortable smoking chairs beside the fireplace.

“It’s Agatha Christie.”

“Oh, my dear,” Bessie chided the younger woman. “You can’t allow yourself to be vexed by her devious mind. Rest assured, she always delivers a satisfactory resolution to the mystery in the end.”

“No, no, no. It’s the signed, first edition of The Murder at the Vicarage that you donated to the charity auction. It’s missing.”

“Oh my. Yes, that is quite a problem.”

“I put it out on the table not half an hour ago, but when I went to check that everything was in order just before you arrived, it wasn’t there.”

Bessie got to her feet. “Well, in good Miss Marple fashion, let’s go to the scene of the crime.”

Rose led Bessie out to the back yard. The rotund terrier followed behind. “There are only three others here. The auctioneer, the caterer and the bartender. They all came with excellent references. I don’t want to accuse anyone out of hand,” Rose fretted.

“Of course not. We’ll just casually ask what they’ve been doing since they arrived.

The auctioneer, a middle-aged man with impossibly black hair and an imperial moustache, looked up from the table where the charity auctions items were arrayed as they approached. “There’s a nice fella.” He bent down and scratched the dog behind its ears. “We seem to be missing an item. A book. A signed fist edition. Is it coming later?”

“It should be here,” Rose said, playing innocent. “I put it right here on the table myself.”

The auctioneer bent down to look under the table. “Nope, I don’t see it.”

“Have you been here all morning?” Bessie asked.

“I did go into the kitchen to get a glass of water, but the bartender was here the whole time. Maybe he saw something.”

“No, I can’t say as I saw anything untoward, but I’ve been running back and forth getting my supplies ready.” The young red-headed bartender flushed. “You’re not suggesting—”

“Did you see anyone else around the table? Aside from the auctioneer?” Bessie asked.

“Well, the caterer came out and had a gander.” He bent down and patted the dog’s head. “She’s very friendly,” he said approvingly.

A young brunette was furiously whisking a bowl as they entered the kitchen. She shooed away the dog, and then, he glanced guiltily at Rose, “Sorry ma’am. It’s not that I don’t like him, it’s just I don’t think dogs belong in a kitchen.”

“Quite right,” Rose agreed.

“Have you been in the kitchen alone this whole time?” Bessie asked.

“Mostly. That auction fellow came in for a minute to get some water. I asked him to keep an eye on my canapés so I could step out for a minute to get some fresh air. It does get rather hot in here.”

“Well, so much for that,” Rose said miserably, as they returned to the sitting room. “Any of them could have done it.”

“Hello, hello!” A deep baritone called from the hallway. Dan Cannon, Rose’s son, strode into the room. Bessie shouldn’t have been surprised to see

him arrive. Dan was a city Alderman and Rose was always looking for ways to boost his career. Now her offer to host the charity auction made sense. It was the perfect opportunity for Dan to do a little politicking.

“What do we have here?” He bent to give the dog a scratch.

“A rather overweight hound,” Bessie said.

“A rather pregnant hound, you mean,” Dan said.

Bessie rocketed to her feet. “I know who took the book.”

Bessie Stormont hadn’t even raised the brass knocker when the door flew open and Rose Cannon exclaimed her relief at seeing her.

“Thank heaven’s you’re here.”

Bessie had never seen the usually unflappable Rose in this state. “What on earth is going on?” she asked.

“Come in, you’ll never believe what’s happened. I can’t believe it. It’s just so awful.”

Bessie followed Rose into the sitting room. A tan-and black dog with long floppy ears waddled across the room to greet her.

“You got a dog?” Bessie bent down to give the animal a scratch behind the ears. Bessie had never had a dog, at least not since she was a young child and that was sixty-some years ago, but she did know that the first thing Rose would have to do with this one was to put it on a diet.

“The dog? Oh, no, I don’t know where it came from. Probably one of the people that came to set up the charity auction.” Her hands fluttered irritably. “That’s not important, anyway.”

“What has you in such a state, then?” Bessie took a seat on one of the comfortable smoking chairs beside the fireplace.

“It’s Agatha Christie.”

“Oh, my dear,” Bessie chided the younger woman. “You can’t allow yourself to be vexed by her devious mind. Rest assured, she always delivers a satisfactory resolution to the mystery in the end.”

“No, no, no. It’s the signed, first edition of The Murder at the Vicarage that you donated to the charity auction. It’s missing.”

“Oh my. Yes, that is quite a problem.”

“I put it out on the table not half an hour ago, but when I went to check that everything was in order just before you arrived, it wasn’t there.”

Bessie got to her feet. “Well, in good Miss Marple fashion, let’s go to the scene of the crime.”

Rose led Bessie out to the back yard. The rotund terrier followed behind. “There are only three others here. The auctioneer, the caterer and the bartender. They all came with excellent references. I don’t want to accuse anyone out of hand,” Rose fretted.

“Of course not. We’ll just casually ask what they’ve been doing since they arrived.

The auctioneer, a middle-aged man with impossibly black hair and an imperial moustache, looked up from the table where the charity auctions items were arrayed as they approached. “There’s a nice fella.” He bent down and scratched the dog behind its ears. “We seem to be missing an item. A book. A signed fist edition. Is it coming later?”

“It should be here,” Rose said, playing innocent. “I put it right here on the table myself.”

The auctioneer bent down to look under the table. “Nope, I don’t see it.”

“Have you been here all morning?” Bessie asked.

“I did go into the kitchen to get a glass of water, but the bartender was here the whole time. Maybe he saw something.”

“No, I can’t say as I saw anything untoward, but I’ve been running back and forth getting my supplies ready.” The young red-headed bartender flushed. “You’re not suggesting—”

“Did you see anyone else around the table? Aside from the auctioneer?” Bessie asked.

“Well, the caterer came out and had a gander.” He bent down and patted the dog’s head. “She’s very friendly,” he said approvingly.

A young brunette was furiously whisking a bowl as they entered the kitchen. She shooed away the dog, and then, he glanced guiltily at Rose, “Sorry ma’am. It’s not that I don’t like him, it’s just I don’t think dogs belong in a kitchen.”

“Quite right,” Rose agreed.

“Have you been in the kitchen alone this whole time?” Bessie asked.

“Mostly. That auction fellow came in for a minute to get some water. I asked him to keep an eye on my canapés so I could step out for a minute to get some fresh air. It does get rather hot in here.”

“Well, so much for that,” Rose said miserably, as they returned to the sitting room. “Any of them could have done it.”

“Hello, hello!” A deep baritone called from the hallway. Dan Cannon, Rose’s son, strode into the room. Bessie shouldn’t have been surprised to see him arrive. Dan was a city Alderman and Rose was always looking for ways to boost his career. Now her offer to host the charity auction made sense. It was the perfect opportunity for Dan to do a little politicking.

“What do we have here?” He bent to give the dog a scratch.

“A rather overweight hound,” Bessie said.

“A rather pregnant hound, you mean,” Dan said.

Bessie rocketed to her feet. “I know who took the book.”

Do you know who took the book?
Scroll down to see if you are correct.

SOLUTION

Bessie believed that since all three suspects had denied any knowledge of the dog, it was likely that the person who really did own it had also lied about taking the book. And she was right.

The bartender had referred to the dog as a “she” unlike the other two. When confronted, he confessed. He was taking care of the dog for his grandmother, who was in hospital. He’d seen the book on the table and, not realizing its value, had pocketed it to give to her as a gift, since he couldn’t afford to buy her anything on his meagre wages.

He returned the book and Bessie took pity on him, giving him two, less valuable, books from her own library.


I hope you had fun with To Fetch a Thief. You can catch up with Bessie, Rose & Dan in Rigged for Murder, the next book in the Charley Hall Mystery series.

And don’t forget to check out Charley’s Field Notes for background and inspirations for book 1, A Shot of Murder.

Go back to Charley’s Secret Web Page

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