Wednesday, July 29, 2015

When is an award more than an award? When it's a murder weapon!

By Jessica Fletcher 

I was on the Cabot Cove committee that sent a talented young country music songwriter, Cyndi Gabriel, to Nashville, Tennessee, to learn about the music business, but I soon found myself in Music City when the young woman was being accused of murder. Detective Perry Biddle of the Nashville Police Department, was skeptical about my interest in the case, but--lucky for me--he reserved judgment. Here's my first encounter with Detective Biddle:

I was perusing the books on Biddle’s shelf when he returned. He took a candy bar from his pocket and put it on the desk, then removed his suit jacket and carefully draped it over the back of his chair. He was a short, stocky man with a thick neck, large chest, and muscular arms that were evident beneath his shirtsleeves. He wore a starched pale yellow shirt with a purple tie and suspenders to match. He was a fussy dresser, if not one I would describe as particularly stylish.

“This isn’t my office,” he declared. “I work out of the West Precinct. We cover Music Row, where the murder took place, but we’re undergoing renovations of the building so I hang out here.” He grimaced for a moment against an unspecified pain and said, “Okay, Mrs. Fletcher, here’s the deal. Just talked to the DA’s office. As it happens, Ms. Gabriel’s court-appointed attorney is in the records room now, going over some reports. When he comes out, you can ask him about putting you on the young lady’s visitors list. Judging from the way she’s been acting since we picked her up, she might not want to see you. Don’t be insulted if she stiffs you.”

“I hope she doesn’t,” I said, “but that’s her decision. I won’t be offended if she declines to talk with me.”

“I’ll say this for her,” he said, “she aced the alcohol and drug screenings. Clean as a whistle. Hasn’t seen the shrink yet, though. We put in for it, but the guy’s so busy he can’t do her until tomorrow. That’s what happens when you have all these whackos on the streets. We arrest one hundred and forty people a day in this city. Hard to keep up.” He ran a hand over his bald spot, a circle of pink scalp peeking out from beneath brindle-colored wavy hair.

“And the charge against Cyndi is murder?” I asked.

“The prosecutor will probably go for murder-two, unless her lawyer can negotiate it down to manslaughter.”

“Has she admitted to the assault?”

“No, ma’am. Says she saw him there, got scared, and ran out to call the cops. Of course, she never made that call. She just disappeared.”

“Did she give a reason for why she was there in the first place?”

“Says she had an appointment, but he kept her twiddlin’ her thumbs. Said she went in to tell him she couldn’t wait around anymore and found him on the floor. That’s her story, but we don’t believe it’s how it went down.”

“So far it sounds pretty circumstantial to me. Have you looked into any other possible suspects?”

Biddle picked up the candy bar he’d left on the desk and tore open the wrapper. “Want one?” he asked. “Got another in my jacket pocket.”

“No thanks,” I replied.

“It’s a Goo Goo Cluster,” he said, eyeing me.

“Should I know what that is?”

“Made right here in Nashville. Can’t call yourself a Southerner if you’ve never had a Goo Goo.”

I smiled. “I’ll have to try one some other time.”

He shrugged and leaned back, his leather chair squeaking under his weight. He munched on the candy bar, his face thoughtful. Finally he sighed and said, “We’re professionals, Mrs. Fletcher. Fact remains, your girl was at the scene, and her prints are on the trophy she used to kill him.”

“A trophy?”

“Award, then. Same as.”

“Like a Grammy or an Oscar?”

“A CMA, Country Music Award. Big and heavy. And before you ask again, yes, I had my guys check out the staff and whoever else was in the building.”

“His secretary, a Ms. Anderson—Edwina’s her first name—said he was alive when she left for home at five and passed your girl in the hall coming in.”

“Is she the only one who saw Cyndi?”

“No, ma’am. The security fellow—” Biddle leaned forward, winced at the chair’s creaky objection, and ran his index finger down the front page of the report on his desk. “Clevon Morgan of Smoky Mountain Security Services said that when he tried the door to Marker’s suite at five forty-five, she came flying out of there like a bat out of you-know-where, crying and hysterical.”

“It’s not surprising that she’d be hysterical at discovering a man fatally injured. She might not even have known that he was still alive.”

Biddle sucked a bit of chocolate off his thumb and nodded. “If she hadn’t taken off, her story might carry more weight. But she hid out until we found her. Juries tend to see that as an indication of guilt.”

“She was obviously frightened and not thinking clearly at that moment,” I offered.

“Had a lot of time to think in the days after. Never came forward.”

“She’s very young, Detective Biddle.”

“The jails are full of young people, Mrs. Fletcher.”

Nashville Noir is number 33 in the "Murder, She Wrote" series. All the books are original mysteries, and are not based on any of the television episodes.

Our good friend and award-winning country music composer David A. Stewart wrote a wonderful  song called  Nashville Noir. You can listen to it here and leave a comment below. We'll do a random drawing for a paperback of the book and a CD of the song.

Don's first love is jazz but we both love a good country song. What's your favorite kind of music?


  1. It depends on my mood... I like Rock, New Age, POP, etc.

  2. I like many types of music - jazz isone of them
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  3. Sorry, but country music is not one of my favorites. But I do like jazz!

    ElaineE246 at msn dot com

  4. Country music is my favorite! Thanks for the opportunity!

  5. Rock and Roll for me!

  6. I like everything but rap/hip hop. Thanks for the chance!

  7. Country and Rock and Jazz and everything actually just not a rap fan

  8. I enjoy Rock and Roll since that was my era. Thanks. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  9. Aaahh, another Jessica book ;-). I am a rock-n-roll kid of the 60's so always gravitate back to that, but I do love jazz and the old Cole Porter songs. My husband has converted me to a sometimes fan of country. Plus there are always show tunes and the classical music. I guess pretty much everything except opera and rap. Thanks for the giveaway.

  10. R & B and Rock and Roll are my favorites. Thanks for the giveaway. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  11. Rock and jazz seem to be leading the popularity poll here. Don loves to listen to music while he works, but Renee needs it to be quiet. As they say, different strokes...
    Thanks for your comments.

  12. I love a variety of music! Thanks for sharing Nashville Noir, and I am looking forward to another Murder, She Wrote book! sbjfap2(at)gmail(dot)com

  13. I enjoy most types of music, but I listen mostly to classic rock or light rock, but if I'm cleaning the house I might put on some big band or swing music! I enjoy all of the Jessica Fletcher books, and can't wait for the next release! :-)

    1. Oh, and I listened to the song (Nashville Noir) and liked it - thanks for posting the link. :-)

    2. Hello Nicole! You are the winner of our random drawing for a copy of Nashville Noir, the book and the song. We'll email you for your snail mail address. Congratulations!

  14. My husband is a country fan, I'm not, although I enjoy a few. Your song is nice and I love the woman's voice. Who sings it? I'm a rock girl from the 70's and both my husband and I like Jazz and at the blues. I'm a huge fan of Dave Matthews Band :)

  15. I read this one a couple of years ago. Love them all.
    Favorite music, The Beatles
    Favorite Country Music- Glen Campbell and Keith Urban

  16. I like soft instrumental jazz playing while I'm reading one of my "cozy mysteries." But, driving in the car, I want music to which I can sing....classics, country, rock all from my past!

  17. I like just about any kind of music that is done well. Nashville Noir was just my cup of tea---I like those minor chords. Thanks for the contest.

  18. We have to say we never appreciated country music until we went to Nashville. The talented musicians in all the clubs just win you over with their creativity and joy in performing. We especially love the fiddle music and it adds a great deal to the "Nashville Noir" song we posted.

  19. This is a great introduction to the story. And country, what could be better?

  20. Great song...I like jazz mixed with country like,"Don't it make my brown eyes blue." This one, Nashville Noir would be great for the background of a James Bond....

    July 29, 2015 at 9:52 PM

  21. I love country music.

  22. I love rock, pop, country - just about anything not too heavy. Nashville Noir looks wonderful!

    brookeb811 at gmail dot com

  23. I love all kinds of music from Big Bands to country to light classic. Thanks for a chance to win.

  24. I LOVE Jessica Fletcher. She's very classy and stronger than steel. I've not been able to read any of the books to date, but was a devoted follower of the TV series.

  25. I don't have a favorite kind of music. I like whatever sounds good whether it's pop, rock, R&B, classical, etc. I love the Murder She Wrote series!!

  26. I'm a lover of classical music. Mozart moves me.


  27. Nicole just won our random drawing for the book and song of Nashville Noir. Congratulations, Nicole! Thank you all for participating. And we'll do it again next month for another "Murder, She Wrote" book on Killer Characters. Hope you'll check out all the wonderful authors on this site.