A Brilliant Plan

Chapter 4

SURPRISINGLY, MUNDY WENT out with Sunny and the kids to watch a movie. The new one with the Scientology actor. Mom and Dad went to a fundraiser. That left me home alone to make it an early night. I was dragging myself upstairs when the doorbell rang.

“Did you guys forget anyth… ”

My heart gave a little skip when I found Detective Ron McCloseky standing at the front door. Trick or treat?

“Detective, did you lose your gun in the upholstery?” I asked, looking over his shoulder. “Or your partner?”

“Miss Moonstone, can I come in for a second?” He asked, “I need to ask you for a favor.” Then he stood there as if he were asking me out on a date.

“What can I do for you? Coffee first?”

The detective nodded and muttered something about a long night and day.

I busied myself with the wonder of Italian engineering.

He started. “I discussed this with my partner, Detective Garcia. She does not share my opinion but she agreed to give it a shot.”


“Don’t feel threatened. Anymore, that is.” Detective McCloseky downed the espresso and shook his head in bewilderment. “I thought no one could surpass the guys from Seattle but this is marvelous.”

I nodded in agreement. “That machine over there probably costs more than you earn in two months.”

“Wow, you put me in line,” he laughed and turned serious again. “We have a problem with the break-in and murder at the Altward Gallery in Downtown San Diego. The day is over and the initial forensics haven’t found anything at all that could even possibly lead us in the right direction. The usual suspects such as the local art pushers and gem traders all turned out to have alibis, same for the usual burglars.”

“I don’t know what you mean by that,” I said coolly.

He didn’t dare laugh because he could see that I was dead serious. “Sorry, that British insurance guy got to me,” Detective McCloseky explained.

I gave him a raised eyebrow, indicating that I had no clue what he was talking about. Why were the wrong people always murdered?

“Anyway,” he continued, “what I want to say is that the trail is cold. The first 24 to 48 hours after the crime are the most important. If you don’t have a serious suspect or lead within that time, chances are slim that you will solve the crime at all. And the first 24 hours are already over.”

“What does that have to do with me, Detective?” I inquired.

“Juanita has burglary experience. I handle the homicides. But there is a total lack of experience when it comes to jewelry and art crime in the department. The last serious crime regarding gem art was years ago and the detective working the case retired a while back.”

“There is no ongoing criminal activity regarding diamonds, gems and jewelry in San Diego? I can’t believe that.” I mused.

He nodded. “Of course, you have your average Joe Burglar who steals and pushes hot jewelry from Miss Socialite’s bedroom safe. But that is off-the-shelf stuff. Expensive, but not rare.”

“You think that the crime is connected with the art scene,” I stated, dropping my act, “jewelry art?”

“That’s right,” Detective McCloseky continued. “The gallery owner is preparing the list of stolen items for us, photos and all.”

I wondered what on earth that could be. “And why do you need me again, exactly?” I asked once more.

“I want your opinion on the stolen gems, not taken for a sucker by the gallery owner, stating the value too high. Another thing is the insurance detective, Mr. Wynn. You’ve met him before, I presume?” Keeping a straight face and deliberately holding my fingers still, I gave a small neutral nod to not to give anything away. “He claims that on the West Coast there are not many true specialists in rare jewelry art. There’s one older guy up in San Francisco, another one in Seattle. And you as one of the few professional craftsmen, sorry, craftswomen, producing art based on gemstones.”

I gave him a modest blush. “When Mr. Wynn supports that opinion, it is high praise from him.”

“So it is true, you are a recognized expert?”

This was not the time to give him the truth about gemstone art or to go into detail, so I nodded. “You want my expertise, you got it.”

I stopped myself for one second. Was I mad? I had just agreed to work with the detective on a case in which I was a suspect. A case that I had partly witnessed myself? Any wrong word could land me in jail.

“Miss Moonstone?” Detective McCloseky asked. “Earth to Moon. Do you copy?”

I offered my hand. “Call me Cal. Where do we start?”

“By calling me Ron.”

That settled that.

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