Author’s Note: This story is an excerpt from The Peril at Peacock Perch, Book 2 in the Secret Senior Sleuths Society Mysteries, just released.
When investigating a mystery, you have to break a few eggs and a few rules. One of them is a thorough search of the victim’s home. Some detectives are squeamish about snooping, but it is extremely essential. Many things in a person’s home displays a window into their world. To the experienced investigator, our homes can tell about our hobbies, proclivities, medical situations, etc. It’s a treasure trove of information.
We are currently investigating a death in our community. The police ruled it a heart attack, but we found evidence in the home through their artificial intelligence technology that led us foul play. When the victim collapsed, he doubled over and grabbed his throat. We suspect poison, but the toxicology report proved useless.
Our research reveals a number of possible organic poisons or drug interactions could have been the means of murder. In order to continue that path of deduction, we must know what medical ailments our victim suffered from and what medications he was taking.
To gain access to the home, we enlist her neighbor, one of our sleuths, to take the widow out to play bingo at our recreational center and depart from her domicile so we can detect any clues.
“Why can’t I just ask her about the medications? I hate deceiving Laurie. She’s my friend,” Mrs. Instinct says.
As usual, my sleuths are not thinking like detectives. It’s elementary. If you want to find out what inopportune illnesses someone has, the answers are no further than his medicine cabinet.
“Mrs. Instinct, may I remind you this is an investigation? If we begin barking the truth at everyone, we’ll get nothing accomplished. Remember, anyone can be a suspect,” I declare.
“Oh, that’s silly. Laurie is the least likely person to commit a crime. She’s a sweetheart,” Mrs. Instinct insists.
“Don’t see it as a deception, darlin’. Think of it as helping out a friend find out what really happened to her husband,” Magnolia Mastermind adds. “Besides, your penance is the torture of Boring Bingo with Barry.”
With everyone in agreement and the widow finally out of the house, we use the neighbor’s spare key start our subterfuge.
I tell Queens Quister to hunt in the bedside tables while I search the bathroom. I find these two inner sanctum areas are the nucleus of our prying probe. After all, it’s the most secret place in your house.
I examine the vanity drawers and medicine cabinet for any prescriptions, pill bottles and other over-the-counter medications. I take pictures of everything we find with my camera—for the evidentiary trail.
I find a myriad of medicines and a plethora of pills and other prescriptions. But then again, it’s not that different from most medicine cabinets I see. As a naturally curious person, I’ve harmlessly peeked into my friends’ bathrooms before. You never know really someone until you’ve been in their bathroom.
It appears our victim suffered from diabetes, proven by the testing kits and pills. I see those a lot in the bathrooms I observe. And he also had high cholesterol, as noted by the statin medicine. But I think those prescriptions are in most of my neighbors’ drawers. It seems like everything goes well until you hit a certain age and then you inherit a pharmacy in your bathroom.
I don’t see any heart medications, though. My father had a heart condition, so I would recognize anything like that.
As I suspected, the police heart attack theory is less than plausible. I knew they were making a quick excuse to push the death on, so they could close the case. No dedication.
After shooting photographs of all the medicines, I restore everything as it was and proceed into the bedroom to see how Queens is doing.
“Did you find any medications?” I ask.
“Not really, just some antacids and over-the-counter pain medications—pretty standard,” she says. She puts the piles of odds and ends she had stacked on the bed back into the drawers.
But then I notice a bunch of small receipts on the bed and pick them up. They are for downtown parking and ATMs, and all in the same place on Piper Avenue.
“What about these receipts?” I ask.
“Oh, yes, I saw those, but didn’t think anything of them. Many people like to eat out downtown. They have so many wonderful seafood restaurants and live music all the time,” she says.
“Queens, must I remind you that in an investigation, clues—even seemingly normal ones—often present themselves in plain sight? We must deduce the unusual and the usual,” I instruct her.
I continually have to school my sleuths. I guess they don’t have the investigative intuition that I have. It’s a gift. I’m not sure it can be taught, but perhaps I need to offer some orations on deduction and detective work 101.
I photograph the receipts to examine later, and Queens returns them to the drawers.
With everything back in place, we still need to go through the kitchen pantry. What we consume articulates a lot about our health and habits.
But so far, this spying session has borne fruit and provided several leads to point our path towards suspects with means, motives and opportunity. The victim was diabetic and had high cholesterol. When combined with or without outside elements, there could be potential drug interactions.
And those receipts are for the same area with such frequency that my investigative instinct indicates they could reveal a habit or maybe even a suspect. The truth is often hidden in plain sight. It’s our job to find it.
The Secret Senior Sleuth’s Society will not rest until the case of the Peril in Peacock Perch is solved.
(c) Suzanne Rudd Hamilton 2022