A little slice of death
Dessert is not always the best part of the meal
Detective Alexander Landers stood in the doorway and surveyed the scene. Like the others, something did not fit, and before the technicians began mucking up the whole thing with their signs and strings, he needed to view everything where it sat. If his murderer was responsible for the body lying just beyond the front door, the clue would be in plain sight. Alex had spent the last six months chasing this abhorrent killer and he was no closer to understanding the motives or the pattern.
Each location seemed random on the surface, the victims as unique as snowflakes. The methods too. His whiteboards and desk overflowed with images, reports, and post-it notes. The theories were rampant, but none of them panned out. Landers reached for his container of antacid tablets and crunched three while he ruminated over this latest death. From this angle, the most he could see were leather shoes and khakis, the remainder of Mr. Johansen hidden beneath a white linen tablecloth.
Punching the speed dial on his mobile, the detective let his vision go blurry while he waited for the call to go through. It was helpful to use his peripheral vision to spot the little things. Sweeping his gaze back and forth as the line rang, nothing jumped out. With a sigh, he hung up and pocketed the phone. No luck on either end.
“Detective?” came a soft voice from behind him. “Can we enter now? The body needs to be processed.” The coroner and her technicians were awaiting his departure. They would have to wait a little longer.
“Give me another minute, Clair. Something's bugging me.”
Dr. Melvin waved her crew to back up and relax before looking at her watch. Landers smiled. She was always so literal. The clock was ticking. Better not waste it.
Moving slowly into the room, his plastic-encased oxfords brushed gently on the oak floor as he walked in a collapsing circle towards the centre of the crime scene. Avoiding any marking or item that may be pertinent to the case, he made note of every detail, locking them into his memory for later. As he approached the body, additional shuffling announced the entrance of the coroner. Time's up.
He managed one final inspection of the deceased and the tipped-over table before Dr. Melvin stepped in front of him, glaring over her shoulder with a 'get out of my way' look. He knew the drill. No more answers from here today. He would have to wait for the photos and reports to make their way to his desk.
Stepping back, his side view caught the presence of a small white plate, carefully set behind the table but partially hidden beneath a delicately shaped piece of cloth. His clue. There was no way for it to land there when the furniture fell over, or the dead man hit the floor. The pristine placement meant something. Frustration filled him. What possible meaning could he glean from a piece of china, a silver fork, and a lusciously thick slice of Black Forest cake?
Maybe it wasn't the cake. He moved around the table leg to get a better look at the intricate folds of the napkin. The Mission Impossible theme rang throughout the room, causing the technicians to smile and Landers to grimace. He pulled his phone out to answer it, once more wishing he had changed her personalized ringtone.
“So, what kind of mystery are you into this time?” came the voice of Dr. Elaine Houston. “I've only got a minute before my next class, so spill it.”
Detective Landers sighed, “What do you know about chocolate cake?” He turned to look back at the victim. “And murder.”
About the author
I am a panster by nature, discovering my characters as they reveal themselves. To date, my novel writing has involved the paranormal or magick within a more familiar setting, blending it with mysteries, police procedurals, or thrillers.