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by Ruth Hymel

The room was abuzz with female voices. Above the clatter of tea cups and the clicking of needles, a constant murmur created such a din that it seemed everyone was speaking at once and to no one in particular. Sitting a little removed, Jayne perched on her chair, ringing a handkerchief in her hands and looking anxiously about the room. Had she kicked an ant pile by relating the events that had transpired the last twenty-four hours? Would fingers be pointed? Accusations made? 

Taking a knitting needle firmly in her mayoral hand, Jennifer tapped loudly on the arm of her chair. The chatter broke off abruptly. 

“Ladies,” she began, “all this talk comes to nothing without some proof. Now, to every mystery there is an explanation. Perhaps, Jayne, you might go over for the Knitting Circle once more the details of the case.” 

“Very well.” Jayne cleared her throat and sipped some tea, “Last night, around 10pm Peter and I did our usual once-over of the shop before going to bed. I remember looking over towards the front window, but didn’t notice anything amiss. During the night, I was awoken suddenly by a noise. I felt frightened, but thought it might be the wind and soon fell back asleep. This morning, around 9AM I went to open the shop door. There were flowers spilled on the floor. I looked up, and the necklace was gone!” 

“This is so disturbing!” cried out Gillian. “A theft! Here – in quiet little Evening Shire! Who could have taken it?” 

An uncomfortable quiet moved about the room as each woman tried to look at the next without catching eyes. Miss Matty sat up straighter, “Now this is just silly. Look at us suspecting our neighbors. What we need is a detective.” 

Mandy looked incredulous, “Like Sherlock Holmes?” 

“Precisely,” Jennifer said thoughtfully. “It must be someone with an airtight alibi. I don’t think that qualifies any of us.” 

“If you want an alibi, my Shaun was away all yesterday and not back until today at lunchtime,” offered Fiona. “And he reads a fearful lot of that Holmes.” 

“Well, then, that settles it,” the mayor announced to the heads all nodding in assent. “If all are in agreement, we shall ask Shaun to be our sleuth in the Case of the Stolen Necklace.”