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Can You Solve This Two-Minute Mini Mystery? ‘Mother’s Day Vandal’

Grab your magnifying glass and channel your inner Sherlock Holmes to crack the case!

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Woman’s World readers are entertained each week with a two-minute mystery story in every issue (and have special Mini Mysteries magazines devoted to cracking even more cases!) — from whodunits to who-stole-its to who’s up to no good — and we’re sharing those stories here each week to bring more laugh-out-loud fun to our readers.

Read on for the newest installment!

Mother’s Day Vandal by Loretta Martin

Detective Brynne O’Dell sighed. Another 15 minutes and her graveyard shift would’ve ended if Tina Mayfield hadn’t rushed into the department at 8:45 am.

“Somebody broke in last night and trashed my shop!”

When Tina opened Petals ’n’ Posies last year, Purvis Flowers no longer was Brighthaven’s only florist.

“What happened?” O’Dell asked, resigned to taking the case.

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“Three days before Mother’s Day and we’re swamped with last-minute orders. My assistant Jen and I‘ve been coming in early to keep up, closing at 7 pm,” Tina explained. “A half hour ago, we pulled into the back lot.

“The door was open, its lock jimmied. We knew something was up. Hearing no sounds inside, we entered to find displays knocked over. Flowers, plants, broken glass and pottery everywhere. Red and white roses and carnations had been tossed from the back-room cooler.”

Flowers on the ground with a broken vase
Two-Minute Mini Mysteriessimonkr/Getty

“Let’s go. I’ll follow in my car.” Ten minutes later, they entered through the back door. Jen, pale as a ghost, was behind the checkout counter where Tina had instructed her to remain to avoid further contaminating a crime scene.

“How much money’s missing?” O’Dell asked her.

“None. The $200 we always start with is still here,” she said, pointing to the open drawer.

“Front door’s intact, only one camera outside the entrance. Why no indoor surveillance system?” O’Dell asked Tina after an inspection.

“It’s Brighthaven! Who’d think one was necessary?”

“Any idea why red and white flowers were targeted?”

“Creep must’ve known they’re holiday favorites. Lots of orders for buttonhole flowers and corsages,” Jen said.

“More rage than robbery,” O’Dell mused. “You tick anybody off?” she asked, turning to Tina.

“Last week I fired Justin, our delivery driver, after finding an open bottle of booze in the company van. Jen’s filling in until we find a replacement.”

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“I’ll need his address. Anyone else?”

“This is awkward. Fred Purvis ran out of carnations and roses and called me earlier this week asking to ‘borrow’ some for the few orders he had — I suspect his seller suspended his credit — but I couldn’t accommodate him.”

“His son Michael’s in town to convince Fred to turn the shop over to him,” Jen added.

“From what I hear, Michael’s a blowhard wannabe entrepreneur and a very flashy dresser,” Tina said.

For 25 years, Fred and his wife Miriam had operated Purvis Flowers as an old-school mom and pop shop.

Since Miriam’s death two years ago, he’d been confronted with the shop’s inability to compete with Tina’s high-tech model, extensive inventory line and online marketplace.

At 9:30, O’Dell’s knock roused Justin, hungover, struggling to follow her explanation for being there.

“Where were you last night after 7?”

“Duke’s Pub. Purvis’ son bought rounds for the house. When Duke closed at 2am he drove me home, griping nonstop about his dad’s business problems and how much he missed his mom. Guess they were close.”

After lunch, O’Dell wasn’t surprised to find no customers at Purvis Flowers, only Michael looking bored and out of place in his designer suit.

“You or your dad know anything about Petals ’n’ Posies being vandalized last night?”

“Are we suspects?” he asked, casually straightening the red carnation on his lapel.

Red flowers on suit jacket
Two-Minute Mini MysteriesMykhailo Lukashuk/Getty

“I have to ask. Routine.”

“Dad’s been home for two days. Stomach flu. He’s no criminal, and I’ve never set foot in that shop. Anything else you need?”

“Just one. A shame this Mother’s Day wouldn’t make your mom proud. Lock up, we’re taking a ride to the station.”

WHO WAS THE VANDAL?


Michael’s the vandal. He wanted to scare Tina into closing, hoping to take over Purvis Flowers and sell it to finance other business ventures. During his rampage, he thought of his mother and swiped the red carnation in his lapel. He didn’t realize his father had asked Tina to “borrow” some. How else would Michael have a carnation unless he’d taken it from Petals ’n’ Posies? But he mixed up the tradition—white flowers commemorate deceased mothers, and red ones honor those still living.


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