1. It was a scene out of Currier & Ives. The Victorian cottages, lit up after dark. Men, women and children ice skating on the frozen pond, sipping hot chocolate and warming their hands by the bonfire. The horse-drawn sleigh making its way around the property. We climbed into the carriage and allowed the horses to take us down past the ice-skaters, past the stables, the bells on the draft horses jingling as they pulled the carriage, the carriage creaking as it bumped along the trail. We followed the path of the Ellis River, snuggling under blankets to stay warm. I leaned in close to the missus, whispering in her ear. This would be a good place for a dead body.
2. My wife and I have been married for nearly 37 years. In May 2005, on the occasion of our twenty-fifth anniversary I posted this –
I spent the Memorial Day week-end with my wife and son and four other families at a beach house in Cape May celebrating my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. I am truly blessed with a wonderful wife, a great kid and remarkable friends. Only now I plan to write a short story about a man who kills his wife. Is that wrong? The first line of the story:
The day that Henry’s first wife was murdered, hundreds of horseshoe crabs dragged their bodies out of the cold Atlantic surf to mate in the wet sand at the water line.
3. It was a chilly day, dry but overcast, puddles all that remained of last night’s storm. We decided to go for a walk on the towpath, the lake to our right, the canal on our left, great blue herons in the trees overhead. We made our way north, toward Princeton when, off to our left, beyond the canal, on the far side of the canal, we noticed a series of long white tarps, dozens of them, stretched over half-round frames. You might assume that we had stumbled upon a nursery. But we know this area well. For nearly forty years we have hiked along the towpath, canoed on the canal and driven the surrounding roads. Nurseries do not appear overnight. Or do they? We backtracked to the crossing in Kingston and made our way along the far side of the canal. My wife counseled caution, but I pushed ahead. Next time, if there is a next time, I swear I will take her advice. Arriving at the first of the white structures, I let myself in. It was quiet… too quiet. I peeked into a private space in back. That’s when I noticed the pods. I couldn’t stop myself. The pod screamed. Space aliens rushed in to investigate. They captured the missus!
4. When people read a book, they don’t always read things like the author’s acknowledgments or dedication. I’m not complaining. I still consider myself fortunate if someone takes the time to read the story. So I thought this might be a good time to re-print the dedication page from A Minor Case of Murder.
Now that I write murder mysteries, I see dead bodies most everywhere that I go. On more than one occasion, I have recounted for my wife Carol the details of her gruesome and untimely demise. Carol listens and smiles and encourages me to write. She is a lover of good murder mysteries and seems to count my stories among the good ones. Carol is not my most objective reader. But I didn’t marry her for her objectivity.
To my lovely wife Carol, I dedicate A Minor Case of Murder.