Mystery Fiction Crime

It’s Monday morning and I’m sipping my coffee when my boss walks into my office.

“There’s been a break-in at the Sugar and Spice Bakery,” Roger says.

I look up from my computer. “Anything missing?”

“Don’t know, yet. Beth and Will discovered the back door was open when they arrived at 5:30 this morning. The police are already there, securing the scene. Get on down there and see what you can find.”

I grab my bag with my camera, fingerprinting kit, and other necessary items for an investigation.

As I shift gears and head down Main Street I wonder, Who would break into the bakery? I’ve known Beth since we were in kindergarten. She has always been as sweet as her cookies and so kind. For years, whenever they have baked goods that are more than a day old, Will and Beth donate the sweets to the nursing home and to people in public service, such as firefighters, police, paramedics and EMT’s.

Officer Manning meets me at the door. I’ve known Doug since his family moved to Marysville when he was in the sixth grade. He was a year ahead of me and I had a crush on him. “They entered through the back door which was pried open. It appears they walked right past the office and into this room. Will always empties the cash register before he leaves each day, so there wasn’t anything there to take. This case…over here was open and Beth says a cookie was taken…but only one. Other than that, we haven’t found anything missing.”

“How about the kitchen?”

“Nothing seems disturbed in there.”

“Thanks Doug.” I give my old flame a smile and set my bag down on the floor. Hanging my camera around my neck I grab my fingerprint kit and head for the back door with pad and pen in hand. I’m glad the office door is closed as I want to start my preliminary investigation before talking to Will and Beth.

Remember OASCDA: observe, assess, search, collect, document, and analyze. 

I take photos of the back door, don my gloves, and dust for prints. Searching the alleyway I look for footprints. There’s a cement slab right outside the door which abuts the paved alleyway…no footprints noted.

The kitchen is opposite the office. There’s no door to the kitchen, only an archway. I can’t see anything out of place as I survey the room, but I walk around with camera in hand and take random shots. You can’t take too many photos at a crime scene, I tell myself.

In the front room, I take more photos around the room and zero in on the open display case and the tray where it appears a cookie has been taken. I dust for prints. Hmm, why steal just one cookie?

Finally I knock on the office door. “Come in.”

Will and Beth stand as I enter the office. Beth rushes to me. “Who would do this…and why?” She imploringly looks at me. I give her a hug. “We’ll find out,” I promise. “Sit down, I have a few questions to ask.”

Will and Beth sit together on the couch and I sit at their desk. “Have you found anything else missing?”

They answer in unison, “No.”

“There’s got to be something else.” I start to doodle on my notepad. “Why would someone break in here and only steal a cookie? It doesn’t make sense.”

This time Beth speaks. “That’s what we keep asking ourselves.”

I sit forward in the chair. “Is there anyone who comes to mind when you ask yourselves, ‘who would do this?’” 

Beth and Will both shake their heads. “No.”


“We don’t have any,” Will answers. “We did have a high school boy here, last year, who came in after school and would sweep and clean up. But we let him go after a few weeks because he wasn’t very thorough and we had some unexpected expenses.”

“What’s his name?”

“Donald Johnson.”

“Do you have an address and phone number for him?”

Beth is looking at her cell phone. “Yes, here it is.” She hands me the phone and I write down the info.

“Thanks. I’m going back to the office and look through my photos and check the fingerprints. I stand up and push the chair back. “In the meantime, see if you can find anything else which has been disturbed.”

I start to turn right and head for the front door, but I feel drawn to turn left…toward the back door. 

This time I scour the ground more thoroughly. There’s got to be something out here. About ten feet to the left of the door I spot a discarded cigarette…it has a brown filter end which is the best for DNA. Aha, maybe this is what I’m looking for. I put on a glove, pick up the butt with my tweezers, and place it in a bag.

Back in my office I upload the photos to my desk computer and start to scan through them. I’m looking at the open display case when Roger walks in.

“Well, what did you find?”

I shake my head. “Not much. Someone broke in through the back door and stole a cookie.”

Roger chuckles. “Are you serious? A cookie? No money taken…or anything else?”

“Beth and Will can’t find anything else missing.”

“That doesn’t make sense! There’s got to be something else missing.” Roger turns toward the door. “Keep me posted.”

“Will do.”

This afternoon George comes into my office with the news, “The only fingerprints we can find belong to Will and Beth.”  

“I was afraid of that. Our suspect must have worn gloves. Thanks, George.”

I’m looking at the photos of the back door when I remember something. “How stupid can you be? You, the Valedictorian of your high school class…and the winner of the prestigious Super Sleuth award. I almost tip over my chair as I get up and scramble for my bag. Deep down in the bottom lays the one and maybe the only piece of evidence I have and I forget to take it the lab. “Come on Liz, you’re a better investigator than this!” I chide myself and rush out the door.

“George, I have a butt here…a cigarette butt that I found at the scene. I hope there’s some DNA on it.”

George grins at me. “I’ll send the cigarette butt off for you, but you know it’ll take three to four weeks for the results.”

“Yeah, I know. Thanks.” 

I scold myself as I walk back to my office. Your number one piece of evidence…your only piece of evidence and you leave it in the bottom of your bag. Next time keep your mind on your job and not on an old flame!


Beth calls me early Tuesday morning. “We think some sourdough has been stolen.”

“What?” I sit up in bed and glance at the clock. 5:45 AM.

“When I went to open the sourdough tub this morning I noticed it had been turned around.”

I’m awake now. “Why would anyone want your sourdough?”

“It’s our special ingredient! Please come down here and I’ll explain.”

“Sure, Beth. Let me take a quick shower and get dressed.”

If I had been timed, I think I might have set a world record for the fastest time a twenty-eight year old female showered, dressed, dried and fixed her hair, and put on makeup.

I make a quick stop at the office to grab my bag. When I get to the bakery I knock on the front door. Will rushes out of the kitchen and unlocks the door. “Thanks for coming, Liz.”

I follow Will back to the kitchen. He walks over to a ten gallon tub. “This tub has been turned so this part of the lid is in front and it’s further out from the wall. We haven’t touched it because we didn’t want to spoil any evidence.”

“Good.” I take some photos before getting out the fingerprint kit. Then I dust for prints. “How do you usually open this?”

“We’re both right handed, so we always have the tub turned…like this.” He turns the tub to the right. “This clear part of the lid slides this away.” Will takes his right hand and slides half of the lid to the left. “It’s handy to be able to look in and see how the dough is doing and it’s easier to open and scoop some out without having to pry open the whole lid.”

“This is your special ingredient?”

“Very special!” Will peers into the tub, then removes the whole lid. “On no!”

Beth turns from the oven. “What is it?”

“It looks like it’s contaminated.” 

“Contaminated?” Beth rushes over to the tub.

“It looks like someone threw some dirt in here.” Will stands back so Beth can take a look.

“Will, why would someone do this?” 

Will hugs Beth. “I don’t know, honey.”

“Does this mean you don’t have any sourdough for your baking?”

Will looks at me. “No, we have more…some in the freezer, some we have dried, and some in the refrigerator. Of course we can always get more from my mother.”

“What makes your special ingredient so special?”

“Come in the office with me and I’ll explain,” Beth says. “Have you had breakfast?” 

“No, I didn’t take time.”

“Would you like some coffee cake?”

“How can I say ‘No’ to your famous coffee cake?”

“Help yourself to some coffee and I’ll cut you a piece of this cake.”

I follow Beth into the office and we sit together on the couch.

“You know Will is from San Francisco?”

I nod.

“Well the best sourdough comes from that area. Will’s mother gave us the starter. Not only do we use the starter in our sourdough bread, but we use it in our coffee cakes and some other recipes. Most recently it has become our secret ingredient in our chocolate chip cookies. People are crazy about them and keep asking if we put anything special in them. We tell them it must be the vanilla…it comes from Madagascar.”

I take a sip of my coffee. “By the way, what kind of cookie was taken?”

“One of those chocolate chip cookies.”

I put down my fork to take out my notepad, but I grab my cell phone, instead. “You don’t mind if I record our conversation, do you?”

“Of course not.”

“Good. This will be quicker and I can continue to devour this cake.” I start the voice memos. “Now, tell me the names of everyone who has asked you for your chocolate chip cookie recipe.”

After Beth mentions about six names she says, “Now that I think about it, there is one person who stands out from the rest.”


“The guy who opened that new bakery in Washington. He was over here a few weeks ago. He said he had heard about our chocolate chip cookies. He bought one, raved about its taste, and asked what was in it. I told him about the vanilla. Then he asked me if I was going to enter the bake-off contest that WIBW is sponsoring in a couple of weeks. I told him we were and he left. Tina happened to be in the shop, at the time, and told me he was the owner of the new bakery.”

“What was your impression of him?”

“His mannerism was a little strange…I felt a little uncomfortable talking to him.”

I finish the last of my coffee. “I think I’ll drive over to Washington. Thanks for breakfast.”

“Thank you for helping us.”

Once I get in my car I call Roger to let him know where I am going.

Forty minutes later I open the door of the Washington Bakery. I watch a tall dark haired man walk through the swinging doors from the kitchen. “May I help you?”

“Someone told me about this new bakery and I thought I would check it out.” I look around at the cases with donuts, cookies, cakes, and breads. 

“Do you have a brochure and a business card?”

“No, not yet. I’m waiting on the printer.”

Just what I was hoping for. “Would you please write down your name and phone number so I can call if I want to place an order?” I watch him take a pen in his left hand and write on a slip of paper. I take the paper and look at it. “Thank you, Damien.”

Once in the car, I jot down some notes. A hunch leads me to the alley behind the bakery where I’m delighted to find a discarded cigarette butt. Unfortunately, you usually can’t get fingerprints from a cigarette butt, but I have an idea.

Back at the office I call the Sugar and Spice Bakery. “Beth, what do you know about Donald and his family?”

“Not much. Tina knows his mother.”

“Do you have Tina’s number?”

“No, but she’s in the directory. Have you found something?”

“I think so. I’ll tell you later.” I quickly find Tina’s number and give her a call.

Things are falling into place and I tell Roger of my plan. He calls Damien at the Washington Bakery and asks him to come in for an interview. I’m somewhat surprised that he agrees to come in Friday after he closes his bakery.

The interview goes as I hope and I rope him in. “Damien Johnson, we have all the evidence we need to charge you with the burglary at the Sugar and Spice Bakery.”

Damien uncrosses his legs. “What are you talking about? I didn’t break into the bakery. It wasn’t me.”

“We have your fingerprints and DNA.” I’m hoping he doesn’t know how long it takes to get DNA results and that fingerprints can rarely be gotten from cigarette butts.

“On What?”

“On the cigarette butts we found…one behind the bakery here and one behind your bakery.” I watch Damien’s face fade. “We also know the thief is left handed.”

Damien finally confesses. “My brother, Donald, worked at the bakery for awhile and told me about Will’s sourdough starter from San Fransisco and how it was their special ingredient. I thought if I could get that special ingredient and ruin his, I could win the bake-off contest get the much needed business for my bakery.” 

Roger turns to me. “If you want to call Beth, I’ll take care of the booking.”

I sit at my desk with a sigh of relief. Beth answers my call. “Beth, we have an arrest. It’s the new owner of the Washington Bakery…Damien Johnson…Donald’s older brother.”


A week after the case is closed, Will, Beth, Doug and I get together to celebrate.

December 07, 2020 22:39

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Doug Goodrich
16:22 Dec 19, 2020

Boy, you have a lot of info there. I was confused at first because I thought your main character was a reporter but later on you mentioned she was an investigator. Very colorful descriptions. Thank you.


Elizabeth Rogge
16:25 Dec 19, 2020

Thank you for your kind comments. Glad you enjoyed my story.


Show 0 replies
Elizabeth Rogge
16:26 Dec 19, 2020

Thank you for your kind comments. Glad you enjoyed my story.


Show 0 replies
Show 2 replies
Lisa Segale
21:46 Dec 16, 2020

I liked your story, it is easy to follow along, provides good visuals of the events, and has those specific details that are needed to make it feel real.


Show 0 replies
Frances Flynn
02:54 Dec 15, 2020

Can't beat San Fransisco sourdough bread! Entertaining and well written.


Elizabeth Rogge
03:18 Dec 15, 2020

I agree. I lived in San Fransisco for a year. Thank you for your comments.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Betty Craven
17:14 Dec 14, 2020

I like the way you showed the details of an investigation. An enjoyable read.


Elizabeth Rogge
03:17 Dec 15, 2020

Thank you. I did have to do some research.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Betty Crawford
05:19 Dec 14, 2020

I like the details of your story and the smart investigator. Good job following the prompt.


Elizabeth Rogge
03:15 Dec 15, 2020

Thank you. I enjoyed doing the research into investigating details.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Nancy Tuttle
04:20 Dec 14, 2020

A well written, entertaining story!


Elizabeth Rogge
03:14 Dec 15, 2020

Thank you. Glad you enjoyed my story.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.