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Suite In The Key Of Death
About the Author: BV Lawson’s short fiction has appeared in dozens of publications and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and honored by Derringer, Golden Fedora, and Gemini Magazine Awards, and she was also a contributor to the Anthony Award-winning Blood on the Bayou. BV’s The Scott Drayco crime novels have also been named Best Mystery in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, chosen as a Featured Library Journal Self-E pick, and been a finalist for the Shamus, Silver Falchion, Kindle, and Foreword Reviews.


It was the most elegant and most expensive murder weapon he’d ever seen. Scott Drayco ran his hand along the gleaming ebony of the piano’s curves—a Steinway Model D concert grand. He walked around it several times, examining it from all angles. Sleek, beautiful, enticing … and deadly.

He lifted up the piano lid and felt along the end of the prop stick, catching the hint of roughness where it was filed down. A tenth of an inch maybe, just enough to make the stick slide out of the slot and fall on the victim’s head.

But a piano legend like Archer Rossetti would know better than to file the stick down. And for what purpose? There was no logical reason. To defile such an amazing instrument would be blasphemy to a pianist.

Drayco studied the piano and fought the urge to play the instrument as it beckoned to him, that temptress. He ran a finger silently along the keys and felt his pulse quicken. This piano-witch was making it hard to concentrate.

At least he didn’t have to worry about touching anything, not after the police and paramedics had been all over every inch of the room and the piano. Fingerprint-wise, the only ones the cops found were from the victim, his daughter, Frieda, and the piano tuner.

Drayco turned to the woman standing in the doorway watching his every move. “The police have ruled this a suicide?”

Frieda Rossetti replied, “Yes, because of that stick being filed down. And my father had just made a new will.”

“But you don’t agree? You think it was murder?”

“That’s why I hired you, to prove it was murder. You came highly recommended, your music background and all.”

“How can you be so certain it wasn’t suicide? Or an accident?

She folded her arms across her chest. “An accident? Dad wasn’t that careless. And if my father wanted to take his own life, he would have chosen a much more dramatic end. Maybe shoot himself during a concert. He loved drama. He was a very passionate man.”

“Did he have life insurance?”

She frowned. “Yes. And I know what other people will say. The insurance company doesn’t want to pay out if it’s suicide, so of course I want it to be murder. But something about this is just all wrong.”

She stepped into the room closer to the piano and stared at it. “You know, I hardly ever came in here. It was Dad’s inner sanctum. He wouldn’t even allow the maid inside, did all the upkeep himself.”

“Overall, the piano is in great shape, I’ll hand you that.” Drayco pointed to the lid stick. “However, that’s not a foolproof murder method. The weight of a falling piano lid is only about forty pounds, enough for a bad headache and a bruised ego. Not death, ordinarily.”

“There’s the aneurysm.”

Drayco tore his gaze away from the instrument. “Aneurysm?”

“The doctors found Dad had a brain aneurysm. Unruptured. Because of his age and the size of the thing, they decided on ‘watchful waiting.’ ”

“No treatments at all?”

“They said the risks outweighed benefits. But they did warn him about bumping his head.”

“Other than you, your father, and his doctor, who knew about this?”

She shrugged. “Dad didn’t have a lot of friends. Maybe the piano tuner.”

“You said you’re rarely in here, the maid isn’t allowed here, so who else would have access to this room?”

“Again, the piano tuner. Dad kept it locked the rest of the time.”

“In order for this unusual piano-lid-murder-scheme to work, it must mean your father put the lid down every night and propped it up the next morning.”

“I did ask him about that once. He just laughed and said the piano had to sleep, too.”

“A killer would have to know about your father’s routine. And also need access.”

She gave him a little smile. “I’m the most likely suspect, you mean? I was out of town the week of my father’s death. You can ask the police. They checked.”

“Are there security cameras?”

This story appears in our MAR 2021 Issue
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