Menu

Elle Jauffret

Writer ~ Lawyer ~ Fork Handler

Jane Dare Mystery (work of FICTION): a short-order murder-mystery

Sep 13, 2016

Yes, this is a dead body. Let me explain...

I am Jane, a 35-year old private chef in San Diego, California. This morning, as I was perusing the beach for Pokemons (weird, I know—I’ll explain more about this later), I stumbled upon a corpse. Yes, the un-breathing body of a young woman. Of course, I called the police who arrived shortly and handled the matter. But something struck me as odd: an expensively dressed man (who had been chatting with the officers) came to see me and told me to “keep it shut” and that it was an unfortunate drowning accident. Well, I am usually a people’s pleaser (I’m still seeing my therapist for it), but I respond badly to lack of etiquette (he didn’t even say hello!). And what I hate above all is lies and abuse from this patriarchal world. So here I am, next to a dead fellow female (who could have been my late sister), being told by a rich man (who is not a medical examiner) to “shut it” and ignore the causes of a woman’s death. Well, no siree. No only will I not “keep it shut”, but I will post it on social media for all to see (unless the police tells me otherwise). So here it is, the first post of my murder investigation, in pictures and short posts (to make sure whoever the woman was, there's going to be a true investigation). This is my investigation's story.

The elite police scuba team was rushed to the scene (the victim must have been some type of celebrity). They returned empty-handed, but someone found a gem in the sand, not far from the body.

9/10/16 update: Episode 2

My mom was right. “You can seduce a man into talking with a hearty breakfast, even with your plain face, Jane,” she used to say. (Mom was a former intelligence officer for the NSA, disappointed that my rubenesque self had chosen the culinary arts and not spying as a career path.) I had invited Tom, the forensic photographer at the scene yesterday, thinking a little starch and sugar could entice him into sharing with me a few of his camera shots. And he had agreed.

Turns out, there had been conflicting testimonies regarding the dead woman’s identity. Two local yoga goers recognized her as Gretchen Breese, a fellow yoga enthusiast known for her “tight derrière and perky personality who had a soft spot for older men with money”. But an art dealer from New York, here on vacation, identified her as Géraldine Morel, an avant-guarde artist from New York reported missing.

Tom enjoyed my pumpkin crèpes so much that he did share with me a few shots of the scenes after making me swear that I wasn't a member of the press and to “keep it a secret and make me breakfast next weekend”.

Here's what I learned: the presence of lacerations on the corpse indicates that a necklace was ripped from the victim’s neck (rivalry or affair of the heart) ; salt water and sand were found in her lungs (she drowned with her face against the sand); the time of death contradicts the location of the body (the tide was still low at the time so she couldn’t have been washed ashore); fresh footprints (of feet missing pinky toes) were found on the beach, in the vicinity of the body.

   

I returned to the beach/crime scene later that morning, hoping to find more clues and also catch more water type Pokemons for my nephew (I already have a Dewgong, Omanyt, Magikarp, Shellder, and Horsea—yay, me!). There, I spotted a religious man standing in the exact spot the victim’s lay the day before. His eyes were moist, despite the lack of wind, and he whispered words in Latin. He emptied a small bottle of water on the sand, circled 3 times the wet spot, and left.

I decided to follow him.

 

9/14/16 update: Episode 3

When I bumped into Mrs. Pecari (the millionaire for whom I am catering next week), I knew that my trailing the religious man was over. After an hour Q&A about the type of amuse-bouches, mini-quiches, and bouchées I would serve at her anniversary dinner, the priest was gone. I decided to start from the beginning and check what I could find on Gretchen Breese (the wannabe trophy-wife) and Geraldine Morel (the New York avant-garde artist) via social media. Both of them have been reported missing.

Bull’s eye!

Gretchen had a very active social life until two months ago when she quit all of her activities to focus exclusively on yoga and painting. Painting was a new hobby which she practiced four hours daily: painting at “My Art Shed” (I found this with help from my neighbor, Sam, who checked through the beta software of a free step and calorie count app. Gretchen B. had downloaded on her phone. Sam would hack anything for my special baby back ribs.)

 

 

 

I visited “My Art Shed” for special classes and schedules that would require me to visit twice daily. The owner mentioned that people could come paint at any time, take regular classes, or register for private classes on various styles. And according to her “cubism and expressionism were so popular” that one of her students “took several classes twice a day every day for the past two months”. And guess what: Géraldine Morel’s avant-garde painting style was described as “abstract art borrowed from cubism and expressionism.” Coincidence? I say, no.

 

 

 

9/15p16 update: Episode 4

The four-toe footprints on the beach belonged to Mandy Brainchild (she had her pinky toes surgically removed so she could squeeze into designer shoes—not thinking it would, one day, lead to her arrest). She stated “having done nothing wrong but simply taking the necklace” from the victim’s neck because if she “hadn’t done so, someone else would have.” [ick]

Her alibis eventually checked out (she was at her Early Gardener Workout session early morning during the time of death) but she was charged with theft (the necklace was valued at $15,000). 

 

According to cute-forensic-photographer Tom, the victim’s stomach content included mussels and French fries in a wine sauce (which can only be found in Le Bistro du Marché), which means the victim couldn’t be seafood-allergic Gretchen Breese, but had to be Géraldine Morel. The problem is: no picture of the New York avant-garde artist could be found (she was known for painting her entire face with designs mimicking her art whenever she made public appearances).

 

A little digging in Géraldine Morel’s cryptic twitter feed revealed that she was to meet the “lost part of herself” in La Jolla. Her artistic agent (who had never seen her real face either) insisted that she had been missing. Even when the artist would travel on her own, she would text daily to give signs of life—which she hasn’t done for the past week.

 

9/17/16 update: episode 5

DNA test couldn’t identify the victim either. Gretchen B. had no relatives against whom to compare the victim’s DNA. Same for Géraldine M. who had been adopted as a newborn via closed adoption so there was no way to compare the victim’s blood to the DNA of her biological parents or relatives.

I went to see cute-forensic-photographer Tom who had hired me to cook dinner at his place for him and a few of colleagues, but was surprised to find him alone. I thought it might have been a camouflaged dinner-date, until I went to the powder room and found a painting from Geraldine Morel hanging on the wall. 

 

 

 

9/18/16 update: Bonus clues

Gretchen B. was born in New York; the religious man knows/knew Gretchen well; two days later Géraldine Morel's artistic agent announced a never-seen collection by his client.

There are no more clues: Can anyone tell me who the victim and the killer are? I will send a gift (a 58cmx58cm Ladurée-Paris scarf) to the winner (the one who guesses the plot). US address only. Only one answer per participant. Thank you : )

Answer the following questions: Who is the victim? Who is the killer? What's the motive?

Bonus point for naming the red herring(s).

Contact me at: elle@ellejauffret.com  OR  via private message on FB (https://www.facebook.com/elle.jauffret)  OR  via private message on Twitter (https://twitter.com/ElleJauffret)

Winner announced on Wednesday 9/21/16  : )

Congratulations to the winners: Helene Cardona, Lisa Hachi Randisi and Zoe Brodsky! 

The victim: Géraldine Morel

The killer: Gretchen Breese

The motive: to assume the New York artist’s identity and enjoy her fortune.

Explanation: Gretchen and Géraldine were twin sisters who had been adopted by different families. Gretchen’s family moved to California while Géraldine’s family stayed in New York. Twenty years or so later, Géraldine Morel (now a wealthy famous artist) came to San Diego looking for her lost sister. When Gretchen Breese realized that she had a twin sister who had enjoyed a wealthy lifestyle since childhood, she saw an opportunity to make all of her sister’s fame and fortune hers.

The expensively dressed man (Mandy Brainchild’s boyfriend), Mandy brainchild (Gretchen’s frenemy), the priest (to whom Gretchen confessed but who was prevented from speaking because of the confessional seal), and the cute-forensic-photographer Tom (who bought artwork from local artist —Gretchen’s art) were red herrings.

Thank you all for playing! I may have another short-order mystery to solve in a few months.

 

Go Back