#88 Crapometer

Genre: mystery
Cold Death

Ex- homicide detective, Kelsey Ball deals with more than the chilly Berkshire weather in Massachusetts. For a starter, the man who draws her blood every week to test her Cumidin Level is murdered with a syringe plunged into his right eye.

MacCleane Torrance is a technician at the Berkshire Medical Clinic. When Kelsey discovers his body, she shifts into action, and secures the room until the real authority arrives, but no good turn (deed) goes unpunished. Two detectives show up the next day with a scrap of paper that was clutched in the dead man’s hand. It has her name and address on it. Kelsey insists she has no relationship with Mac outside the clinic. After their departure, she checks her mail, and discovers a package from Mac.

Right here we’ve got a problem. Why would Mac send this to her? If he’s truly concerned about the events you describe next, he’d go to the police.

The envelope contains a key on a key chain, and on the chain is a kind of telescope gizmo, with a photo inside of a naked woman. Kelsey also discovers a torn page from the Yellow Pages, and circled in red is an advertisement for Chasen Funeral Home. Not happy with the attitude of the local police, Kelsey decides to check into the murder herself.

cause like writing a letter would be too...obvious?

Kelsey visits Jeffrey Goldsmith, Mac’s lover. She discovers the girl in the photo is Mac’s younger sister, Sheila. She died six months earlier from a heroin overdose, and coincidentally, was buried by Chasen Funeral.

Going back to complete her blood test, a staff person tell Kelsey of a fight between a body builder type and Mac the day before the murder.

The next day, she goes to the Chasen Funeral Home, using the excuse of pre-planning a funeral for herself to meet with the director, Gaston Boudreaux. Leaving the funeral home, she realizes she is being followed, and confronts the stalker, a private dick named Paul T. Wong. He tells her Mac hired him to check out his sister’s death. After a rocky start, they pool their resources to find Mac’s murderer.

If Mac hired Paul Wong WHY is he sending stuff to Kelsey?

Kelsey turns over the envelope to the police. She discovers the detective, Carroll Hatterton, had worked on Sheila’s case. Hatterton tells her the coroner discovered signs of hypothermia during the autopsy, which didn’t fit the facts, but his boss told him to close the case anyway, since she was just another junkie.

At the clinic, Kelsey speaks again to Mac’s co-worker, who tells her how she’d caught Mac’s boss, Perry Starks, taking a DVD jewel case from Mac’s locker.

so, every time she goes to the clinic something new is revealed? You’re creating things to serve your plot needs but the don’t appear to flow naturally.

Kelsey tracks down Mike Baronski, the blonde Adonis who fought with Mac, but he refuses to speak to her. Returning home, she is beaten up by an intruder. She can’t identify her attacker, but her mobile home is torn apart. Then, after a computer search, she discovers both Gaston and Jeffrey lived together in New Orleans, and Gaston was known to be selling drugs and women.

“both Gaston and Jeffrey lived together” means they both lived with other people, who are unnamed. What you mean is “Gaston and Jeffrey lived together” ie with each other.

And how did she discover they “lived together” on the computer? “computer” is a cop out for finding clues if they aren’t explained.

you can’t sell women. You can rent them out but technically no selling. The fact that I notice this means I've stopped being carried along by the synopsis and I'm now watching for mistakes. This is a VERY bad sign.

Attending Mac’s funeral at Chasen Funeral Home, she notices Mac’s boss is missing, the one who took the disk from Mac’s locker. Going to his apartment, she finds Starks dead in his bedroom. His girlfriend arrives, and Kelsey tells her that if she knows about the DVD disk, she should tell the police.

Later, Kelsey hooks up with Wong to talk to the manager who found Sheila’s body at the Myrtle Inn, a sleazy welfare hotel. Known as Ketchup Barker, he tells them about the two men half-carrying her into the lobby. The description points to Jeffrey and Gaston. Kelsey suspects they supplied her with drugs and prostituted her. She wonders why Jeffrey would do such a thing to his lover’s sister.

Hatterton calls to tell her Sparks’ girlfriend, Maria, is missing. They both agree it’s not a good sign. Later, Kelsey confronts Mike Baronski at his home. He admits to the fight with Mac, but says it was a lover’s spat. He wanted Mac to leave Jeffrey, but Mac said he needed to clear up some “bad stuff between him and Jeffrey” first. After Mac’s death, Jeffrey harassed Mike, and he was afraid of him.

Kelsey breaks into Jeffrey’s house, finds the missing DVD disk. On it is a movie with a naked Sheila crawling into a coffin, pretending to be dead. It was a come-on for men who enjoy necrophilia.

The next day, Kelsey breaks into the funeral home. Jeffrey and Gaston are talking to a man named Tommy Hooplewhite. When her presence is discovered, Tommy knocks Kelsey out. When she wakes up, she is in a small room with the Sparks’ girlfriend’s dead body.

Tommy Hooplewhite explains they cater to the necrophilia trade. Out of revenge for Mac’s infidelity, Jeffrey hooks his sister on drugs and introduces her to Hooplewhite. To add authenticity to the act, they immerse the girl into a tub of ice chips. Because of her drug use, a weakened Sheila went into a coma, but Jeffrey insists they had revived her and returned her alive to the Myrtle Inn. However, after her death, Mac kept snooping around, and they needed to kill him, and later, the others.

They have plans for Kelsey, which include immersing her into a tub of ice for a customer coming up from New York. Jeffrey is given instructions to prepare her. She tries to tell them about her heart condition, but they don’t care. She slips into a coma.

She wakes up in the hospital. A worried Paul Wong broke into the funeral home, and saves her from death. Jeffrey, Gaston and Tommy are arrested for the murders of Mac, Starks and his girlfriend.

oh man, this was old when they used it in The Perils of Pauline. First of all, the rescue, the heat of the action (so to speak, considering she’s covered in ice) happens OFF THE PAGE. Nothing is liklier to make me snarl. Second, she’s the heroine and she’s rescued by someone. YUCK.

Kelsey asking for a favor from Wong and Hatterton, goes back to the Myrtle Inn. She believes Sheila was given a hot shot by Ketchup, the day manager. Not to kill her, but to get her so strung out, she’d sleep with him. He confesses to it, and is arrested.

An impressed Wong asks her to work for him as a private investigator, and she agrees. She looks forward to going back to doing investigations.

Why doesn’t she just go back to being a cop? If she retired on disability, i bet she’s not allowed to work or she loses her benefits. You have to keep this stuff real or you lose the reader’s trust.

You’ve focused on events in this but the good news is that it reveals you’ve got some pretty fundamental flaws in your plot. Even if you had the zippiest writing in the world, this won’t fly as it’s laid out.


Dhewco said...

Miss Snark,

Human slavery is still a deal in the world. It's not legal anywhere, that I know of, but they did a documentary (documovie) about it.

So, you can by women and children. It's illegal, but it does happen. Frankly, I wouldn't know where to find a seller, but it does happen. Even to Americans, who're kidnapped and sold abroad. Most of this is sex-slavery, but not all.


Miss Snark said...

David, this is set in Massachusetts. Laws of the commonwealth apply. They let you marry anyone, but you still don't own other people.

Lisa Cohen said...

LOL, Miss Snark! Yes, As a current resident of the great commonwealth of MA, I can confirm that you *can* marry whom you choose, but buying and selling people is right out. Though, if you ask my kids, they think they are indentured servants. :)


Dhewco said...

Yes, Miss Snark, There are illegal selling of women in Boston, New York, and any big city.

(I wish I could remember the name of the program I saw!)

It's illegal, but it still happens. There's no paperwork, no certificates of ownership, but that doesn't make them any less sold. Or any less slaves. Most of the women were brought in from China, Latin America, or Africa where they might not understand that it's illegal. But it happens.

Plus, when I read that synop, I read nothing that said he had to be selling them in Massachusetts.


Beth said...

Actually, I got the idea they were being sold in New Orleans. But whatever. David is right--this stuff happens right here in the US. And Europe. And Africa. And South America...

The Green Cedar said...

This may be a nitpick based in my own dealings with medical stuff this past year, but I got stuck at testing for Kelsey's Coumidin level (or so I assume it to be). Coumidin levels are monitored because of some health problem, potentially life-threatening (e.g., stroke, blood clots) that requires a blood thinner to treat.

Did I miss the explanation for this? Because I think it's very likely a big deal in Kelsey's life.

Shadow said...

I got stuck at the dreadful misspelling(s) of COUMADIN. Please stick to "blood thinners".

Anonymous said...

What troubled me was seeing somebody remove a "DVD jewel case". You see, jewel cases usually contain CDs. DVDs are normally kept in opaque containers. There's no easy way to distinguish a CD from a DVD without close examination, so you'd likely assume something you saw in a jewel case was a CD...