Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"Account Closed" by William Link

From: Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, November 2007.

Despite the clear-cut sound of its title, this shortest story in the November 2007 AHMM is one of the most mysterious I've read. Police Lt. Meltzer fears Martin Herwitt, dying of cancer, may finally make good on threats of revenge against his daughter's murderer. Said murderer, Neal Bevans, has served his time and apparently reformed, now a born-again Christian running a successful restaurant.

Meltzer warns Bevans to look out for Herwitt, going so far as to put himself between the two men. Within minutes of leaving the restaurant, Meltzer is called back. It seems Herwitt has collapsed at his table. An autopsy shows Herwitt died of arsenic sprinkled on his spaghetti and meatballs. Witnesses say Bevans prepared the meal himself.

A year later, Bevans is convicted of Herwitt's murder, but Meltzer's questions and guilt over what more he could've done remain. Why would Bevans kill Herwitt in his own restaurant in front of witnesses? Did Herwitt poison his own meal at the table, looking to frame Bevans? The truth can never be confirmed.

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