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Sweet As Murder
CONTENT WARNING: This book is a work of fiction. However, the author intended to create characters and settings historically accurate to the era it takes place during 1950s. Certain terms used as racial descriptions now considered archaic, outdated or even offensive are used to reflect the past usage by both black and white Americans of that era. Particular themes regarding race, references to certain crimes such as murder are included as part of the fictional plot. The author provides this content description for any potential reader who may consider any of these subject matters or references too sensitive to consider.
Wilhemina is a
coloured detective in 1950s Atlanta, Georgia.
She is married to Charles David Alexander Dankworth, an
Anglo-Brit. Lieutenant Carmichael sends
her and Detective Arthur Dobson undercover at the Society's annual baking
competition to investigate a murder committed at the preliminaries. Dankworth
is no baker and finds a confectionary shop where she purchases her entry for
each of the three-day competition. There
is more at stake for than a blue ribbon prize. Idle talk, slander, and poison
are the recipe for murder. Arthur is set
as one of three judges. Dorothy, a veteran baker, is an associate of the Society and a contestant.
On the first day
of the baking competition, some of the participants notice a vagrant who is
sits on the pavement outside of the Society's grounds and observes people. Those who entered the baking competition
years prior are accustomed to his presence though it still makes most of them
is stabbed. He is taken to the hospital
where he encounters Dr. Francis Tate.
His patient speaks in riddles.
The doctor only seeks to treat him and have him heal. The excitement of
the first day of the baking competition has just begun. Natalie introduces herself to Wilhemina. She too believes the competition is a
possible stepping stone among the coloured elite. A baker named Delilah stands alone near a
section of the refreshment table and gathers some sweets. Soon she falls to the wayside, dropping her
edibles. Her death is ruled a homicide
by poisoning. There is one oddity the
coroner finds on her body, a black mark on her thumb. Later on it proves to be viable while still
attached to this lifeless body. Arnold's
assigned nurse notices that he no ordinary patient. He is able to wield light and even control
her movements just to taunt her. She
does her best to placate him, bribing him with cookies if he behaves. No one knows exactly who this patient is, but
soon the doctor realizes he is more important than he revealed. Arnold is not interested in tormenting the
nurse too much. His focus is on who the
Society will select this year as the winner of the baking competition. He gives impromptu directions as if he is
speaking to someone not present. The
doctor and nurse initially assess his behaviour as side effects of the
sedative. It is not until Arnold calls
upon Dr. Tate to complete a special assignment.
He is confounded even after discreetly visiting the Society's property
during the competition. When he leaves he accidentally bumps into Charles who
is to retrieve his wife at the end of the day's competition. Wilhemina's husband assumes that their
encounter is happenstance. He notices a
unique ring on the doctor's finger. They
engage in pleasantries and depart from one another. When he and Wilhemina reach the car, Charles
notices that Francis is observing them.
His wife reiterates how strange this baking competition and her cases
are. During Arnold's hospital stay, he
receives a delivery from a neatly dressed man in a gray suit. He delivers a ring to the patient. Dorothy
uses allegations of Communism to progress her way through the competition until
she realizes that she has been socially disposed of by the Society. On day two her insidious verbal play
instigates a fight between two bakers, Alice and Greta. Alice accuses Greta of being a
Communist. Greta defends herself to the
death and walks away unscathed. She
believes she still has a chance to win the competition. Dankworth continues to
notices consistent peculiar behaviour from one baker who plays with light. She appears to be in a trance sometimes,
unaware of her surroundings. Marceline
inclines towards listening through a
door as if someone is communicating with her.
The detective considers Marceline's behaviour a result of nervousness
caused by Delilah's death. Natalie,
Marceline and Wilhemina form a bond.
Natalie is concerned about Marceline's behaviour as well though she
continues to be polite. Wilhemina learns of this light and is able to
communicate with Charles while he is at work. She realizes that the method of
death in her cases is atypical. Dorothy
believes she is to return to the competition.
Instead, she is met with two men at the threshold of her door. The
detectives seem to be no closer to solving the case. Wilhemina leaves the grounds of the Society
before the winner of the competition is
announced. A confession is made. Charles meets with his wife and brings her home. They settle in for the evening until Wilhemina's husband hears someone knocking at the door. A man dressed in a gray suit delivers a box for them. They have no idea what will happen next.
Home. This was far from it. Wilhemina pulled onto the street where the bake shop was. It was the same one she bought her first entry from. The bell dinged as she announced herself as the next customer. Dankworth quietly walked over to the pies, pastries and other section of the shop. The bakery was quaint. The shop owner boasted that its sweet wares were made fresh daily. This is exactly why the detective continued to venture here. She glanced at the large window facing the easterly section of the shop. Wilhemina observed nothing unusual. People going about their days. Women with their short lace gloves and structured pocketbooks dangling from their wrist, ready to share the latest gossip from the other housewives of their neighborhood. The woman she spoke to held her white cloth gloves in her right hand while whirling her left in the air, interrupting her walking companion. Suddenly, Wilhemina heard a familiar voice. Now it was two. She stopped staring at the caramel chocolate chunk oatmeal cranberry cookies. The voices seemed to have gotten louder. The women were approaching. Neither appeared young. The glass had an obstinate glare that obscured their appearance from an angle. Dankworth concentrated. "No...." She now recognized those voices. It was Eudora and Dorothy. Dankworth snapped her fingers in front of her. The shopkeeper smiled. Wilhemina then politely clasped her hands in front of her as if she made no such gesture. Another patron entered. The detective exhaled in relief. She saw her fellow bakers shadows become greater as they neared the shop. Wilhemina stooped below a table filled with freshly baked breads. Dankworth counted. The bell rang again. She heard more than one set of feet. 'If it is them, then all three of us have a secret we now must share throughout the remainder of the baking competition,' she thought. Wilhemina held onto the table with her hand holding its surface
backwards. She quickly noticed the shoes of the pair was that of a man. The other set were that of brown leather low heeled shoes. Wilhemina slowly rose. She went to the window, leaning forward and to her right. Dorothy's and Eudora's silhouettes continued to become smaller the further they walked down the pavement. The detective placed her left hand in the center of her chest and breathed heavily. Her purse dangled from the center of her forearm. She returned her attention to the couple speaking with the shopkeeper. 'Cookies...that is what I was looking for,' she thought. Wilhemina picked up a batch of complicated cookies and proudly presented them at the counter.