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Sunday, May 3, 2009
Gumshoe Moms by Evelyn David
Evelyn David is the pseudonym for Marian Edelman Borden and Rhonda Dossett.
Marian, who lives in New York, is delighted to be attending her third Malice.
Rhonda, who lives in Oklahoma, attends vicariously. They are the authors of the Sullivan Investigations series.
Murder Off the Books was published in 2007.
Murder Takes the Cake made its debut at Malice on May 1, 2009. Please visit their website at http://www.evelyndavid.com
In honor of Mother’s Day, we thought we’d pay tribute to those fictional amateur sleuths who are Moms. We’d send each a virtual breakfast in bed, some roses, maybe a hand-made card or two from their offspring.
But as the two halves of Evelyn David went through the list of popular female protagonists, it became abundantly clear that parenthood and sleuthing don’t mix. Yes, our own protagonist, Rachel Brenner, has Sam, a freshman in college.
But sad to say, Sam’s not a particularly attentive son, so we wouldn’t bet on him calling 1-800-Flowers anytime soon.
But then we got stuck trying to find Moms who are detectives. Miss Marple, the darling, was most decidedly childless. So too are Jessica Fletcher, Pam North, Nora Charles, Stephanie Plum, Kinsey Millhone, and Annie Darling. The list goes on and on. These women may have significant others, perhaps share home and hearth with dogs and cats, but no kids.
To be fair, it’s not that there are many detective Dads either.
Playing detective means following the clues – whenever and wherever they lead.
But if you have to worry about finding a sitter before you can confront a suspect or track down what turns out to be a red herring – then the story may go off into different directions. We’ve yet to hear a detective on a stakeout agonize over getting two dozen cupcakes ready for the PTA bake sale (although word to the wise: Dunkin’ Donuts Munchkins are a perfectly fine substitute for homemade goodies).
And yet, motherhood is probably the best training for being a detective short of going to the FBI Training Academy at Quantico. Think about it. A good mother is:
(1) A master at noticing details.
a. Personal grooming defects: She knows exactly the number of hours since last tooth brushing and whether or not a shirt was worn one day or three.
b. Odd odors: The super sniffer can detect a soiled diaper and 10-day-old leftover pizza under the bed without entering the room.
c. Identifying physical characteristics and clothing: She can accurately estimate the height, to the quarter inch, of the subject, as well as the exact color, style, and price of the criminals' outfits.
(2) Great at detecting lies and interrogating suspects.
a. Moms can find the inconsistencies in a subject's retelling of events with laser-like accuracy.
b. With a well-practiced stare and guilt-infusing declarations, experienced mothers can elicit confessions ranging from minor transgressions to multiple counts of murder.
c. Mothers have a wide-ranging social network with lots of "snitches" from which they can obtain rebuttal evidence.
(3) Appreciative of long, quiet, hours spent alone on stakeouts.
a. After creating Halloween costumes for multiple kids, most moms have plenty of outfits for disguises.
b. After years of staying up with sick babies, mothers have enough patience to maintain a 24-hour surveillance without getting bored or nodding off.
c. After filling day planners with detailed school events, music lesson schedules, and overlapping medical appointments for the brood, keeping good, legible stakeout notes with timelines on one suspect is a breeze.
Happy Mother's Day to all the fictional and real mothers out there. Maybe next year you'll be wearing gumshoes and a dark trenchcoat in a whodunit of your own.