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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write in the MYSTERY genre (04/05/07)

TITLE: Corpus Delecti
By Al Boyce


For the first time in his illustrious career, Sir Reginald was stumped.

This case had been almost childishly simple from the outset. In fact, Sir Reginald had wondered openly to Police Chief Arly Culpepper whether his services were really needed.

Fact: The police had one Sonny Jones in custody. He had confessed to murdering Sophie Lester, his betrothed, with the business end of a garden hoe on the evening of August 9th.

Fact: Police investigators had the murder weapon in hand. Forensics clearly identified the blood on the blade as belonging to Ms. Lester and the fingerprints on the handle as belonging to Mr. Jones.

Fact: Witnesses living next door to the residence of Mr. Jones had testified to hearing the couple arguing on the night of August 9th, said argument emanating from the area of the garden.

Sir Reginald tamped his pipe, casting a rueful eye on the "No Smoking" sign propped above the exit of Mandy's Diner, where the local investigators were feasting on something rather unappetizing -- hog jowls, grits and chitlins? Sir Reginald winced and stirred the rather emasculated hot tea placed before him by a large, sweating waitress.

"It rather looks like what you Americans would call an 'open and shut case,'" Sir Reginald mused. "Not that I mind being paid to jump across the pond and give you my assistance, but perhaps you could explain ... "

Chief Culpepper cut him off with a finger to his lips, then skittered across the room to quickly shut the venetian blinds on every window.

Settling back into a red cushioned chair, he whispered conspiratorily, "Thing is, we don't have the body."

"Ah! Yes! The corpus delecti," Sir Reginald smiled. "Certainly that can be an important component of any murder investigation. I would be more than happy to help you find the ..."

He trailed off at the absolutely haunted look on the police chief's face.

"It's not the finding we need help with," gulped the chief. "It's the fact that, well, she ain't dead!"

"Well, that is certainly something any good legal advocate will fasten his teeth on during a murder trial," Sir Reginald surmised. "Perhaps simply changing the charges to assault and battery, or attempted murder would suffice?"

The chief kept shaking his head. "Sophie not only isn't dead. She's not even hurt," he said. "In fact, you go over to Sophie's Hair Salon, she'll give you a pedicure and trim that there gnarly mustache for you right now."

Sir Reginald fingered his infamous moustache with a degree of alarm at its being associated with the word "gnarly," then said, "Perhaps you should tell me all that you know."

Chief Culpepper then related how officers arrived at the scene of the crime to be greeted by the Rev. Maktar Ji, a former missionary from India and now pastor of the New Life Revivalist Church in Selma. Ji was positively beaming and told them, "God be praised, she has been raised from the dead!"

Sophie Lester, sitting in a mire of her own blood, was beaming as well. She said she didn't want to press charges against Sonny Jones, who had apparently fled before Rev. Ji arrived.

"All I want to do is serve Jesus," she said simply.

That sentiment was echoed by Sonny Jones the next day, when Sophie visited him in jail and read to him for an hour from the New Testament.

"Went right from confessing to murder to confessing Jesus as his Lord and Savior," Chief Culpepper said. "I guess confession truly is good for your soul. But it still leaves us in a pickle."

"Yes," agreed Sir Reginald. "Here is someone you know had murder in his heart just a few days ago. Yet circumstances dictate that you let him go."

"Then again, 1 John 15 says anyone who hates his brother is a murderer," Sir Reginald continued. "And God, in His mercy, set us free. Perhaps this miraculous healing will also serve as a reminder that there are greater things afoot here on earth than we can perceive with our worldly vision."

Sir Reginald was soon on a plane back to Britain. Chief Culpepper was relieved that all of his subsequent murder victims remained dead.

Sophie and Sonny were married by Rev. Ji and became leaders of the healing ministry.

Many more people were healed, and the church continues to add to its numbers.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Helen Paynter04/12/07
What fun - a murder with a living victim! I enjoyed this - and the characterisation. I could hear the British accent loud and clear.
Linda Germain 04/13/07
My favorite line:"It's the fact that...well, she ain't dead." Made me laugh out loud. This would make a good short story with the luxury of a few thousand more words to draw these wonderful characters even more boldly. Nice job.
Sara Harricharan 04/13/07
Nice title! I wish this could go one for a little longer. I was really enjoying it. Interesting twist with the 'murder'. A very good mystery!
Terry R A Eissfeldt 04/14/07
Being a huge fan of British mystery writers I loved this! Great job getting the 'faith' part into the mystery 'writing'
Joanne Sher 04/16/07
I just love the little touches of humor in here. This was so very engaging and wonderful.
Jan Ackerson 04/17/07
Very well-written and compelling. It's probably just me, but I cringed a bit at the ending--I'd never be able to get past the violent act, despite the perpetrator's change of spirit. Love the voice, though, and the tone.
Jacquelyn Horne04/17/07
Certainly a different approach to mystery. The world just doesn't know how to handle it when God steps in.
Rita Garcia04/18/07
Great story of forgivness!
Great food for thought!
Verna Cole Mitchell 04/18/07
This is really a delightful mystery, with great characters, a solid plot, a twist at the end, and clever humor.
Catrina Bradley 04/18/07
Great writing and characterization, and a fun mystery.
Val Clark04/18/07
Loved the humourous characterisation in this, my fav line: Sir Reginald fingered his infamous moustache with a degree of alarm at its being associated with the word "gnarly," Says so much so economically. An enjoyable read with a point. yeggy
Julie Arduini04/18/07
This was delightful. You have to love a mystery where the victim is alive and well and serving the Lord! I too loved the characterizations and dialogue, very authentic.