I need a holiday. A vacation. I use both words. Being Welsh Canadian, I’m allowed.
In any case—I need a break. Fortunately, on Sunday morning Bud and I will be flying to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. YAY! We’re spending a week at an apartment about an hour from the airport, that’s being loaned to us by a colleague from Bud’s time as a homicide cop in Vancouver. I can hardly wait.
But first, I have to get through today, and it’s not going to be pleasant. I’ll explain. I’m a professor specializing in criminal psychology at the University of Vancouver, and I’ve just finished teaching an inter-sessional semester—which has all the work of a full-length semester squashed into half the time. I had a particularly tough group for the “Deviant criminal behavior: background and insights” course. Real criminals some of them. I kid you not.
I’ve never made it publicly known, but I have an eidetic memory, and I’m also very adept at reading people. I’ve used these abilities to help solve some puzzling murder cases in the past, but this semester, I’d noticed that one particular group dynamic in my class was “off” from the start—all popular, but lazy, kids working with one bright, diligent girl, who’s very much a loner. Not normal. For those of you who never went, or have chosen to forget, university is just like high school on steroids. Students categorize themselves, then don’t mix. It makes me smile sometimes—they think they’re being terribly independent in their style of dress, speech, and so forth, yet they’re all wearing “uniforms” that clearly mark them as a member of one group or another. Rebelliousness as tribal membership.
Back to today. I see plagiarism as theft. A crime. And no-one who’s as interested in justice as I am wants to see theft run rampant in their class. So I set a final report challenge that could only be be responded to in an original form, not pinched from the internet. I wondered how my target group would tackle it. I suspected they’d get their one bright member to do all the work, then copy her paper in such a way that they’d hide their theft. To be fair, given that there were eighty seven people taking the course, they could reasonably hope that I wouldn’t note any similarities. But that’s because they don’t know the real me, they just see a professor who’s there to be manipulated.
To cut a long story short, they bit. Two of them had done a pretty good job of covering their tracks, three hadn’t bothered much at all, and the poor girl who’d done all the work hadn’t written it up very well. Today they get their comeuppance.
They’ll be here any minute. They must have guessed what’s going to happen, and I dare say they’ll be developing their cover stories. But they won’t work. Not on me. The bright girl will be their weak link—I’ve already deduced that she’s been dragged into this situation against her will. I had a casual chat with her in the hall the other day and her body language was screaming at me that she wanted to tell me something, but didn’t dare. Her micro-expressions, her picked and nibbled fingers, the cold-sore she kept licking—they all spoke volumes about the stress she was under.
She was gripping her phone at the time. The screen saver behind the keypad showed a smoke-colored, long haired cat. I’ve spotted similar cat hairs on the clothing of one of the group members, and a couple of scratches on the neck of another. But the bright girl hasn’t had a single cat hair on her for weeks. I suspect the slackers are holding her cat, to make her do what they want. Cat-nappers, and thieves. Criminals.
Yes, grades matter that much, especially when parental pressure is applied, but no oversight provided. It should be an open and shut case. The bright girl will pass the course, the others will fail. I’ll make sure they return the cat. And if they want to duke it out with me in front of the departmental head, so be it. But not today. Nor next week.
Next week, I’ll be lying beside the pool at the Rocas Hermosas Resort near Punta de las Rocas, sipping something cold, with a little umbrella in it. Bud will be beside me, and we’ll be chatting about almost nothing, in the most wonderful way. At least, that’s the plan. I really hope nothing happens to spoil it—like I said, I need a break.
This is the first stop on the The Corpse with The Emerald Thumb Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. For other stops on this tour, click HERE
You can find out how Cait’s break in Mexico works out in The Corpse with The Emerald Thumb, the third Cait Morgan Mystery, published by TouchWood Editions. The first book in the series is The Corpse with the Silver Tongue. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.
GIVEAWAY: Comment on this post by 6 p.m. EST on April 25, and you will be entered for a chance to win a copy of THE CORPSE WITH THE EMERALD THUMB. One winner will be chosen at random. Open to U.S. and Canadian residents only.
Meet the author
Welsh Canadian mystery author Cathy Ace is the creator of the Cait Morgan Mysteries, which include The Corpse with the Silver Tongue, The Corpse with the Golden Nose, and The Corpse with the Emerald Thumb. Born, raised, and educated in Wales, Cathy enjoyed a successful career in marketing and training across Europe, before immigrating to Vancouver, Canada, where she taught on MBA and undergraduate marketing programs at various universities. Her eclectic tastes in art, music, food, and drink have been developed during her decades of extensive travel, which she continues whenever possible. Now a full-time author, Cathy’s short stories have appeared in multiple anthologies, as well as on BBC Radio 4. She and her husband are keen gardeners, who enjoy being helped out around their acreage by their green-pawed Labradors. Cathy’s website can be found at www.cathyace.com. Follow her on Twitter, or on Facebook.
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