What's Going On Here?

The noir adventures of Franklin and Turner, two former English Majors who teamed up to pool their knowledge of TV crime dramas to solve Boston's toughest cases.

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Current Case: #002 The Fuschia Falcon


One For the Books

I was finishing up some dinner when someone rapped on the back door. It was of course Franklin with a book and some beer. Time was here to get down to some serious gumshoeing, and so we went out to the main office with some papers I'd drawn up for the occasion. A few seconds out there, we realized we were not alone: we had stumbled into a Battle of the Bees that can only be described as epic--in the Homeric tradition. One was hovering above the desk, dripping a strange liquid, another hiding out in the gutter, somewhere beyond the porch there was a third. Franklin and I made a clean sneak and decided the back office might be better.

Setting up the deck office chairs, we got to work; a cool breeze blowing the cigar smoke away from us while we talked shop. There is an arsonist still at large in Jamaica Plain, having hit five scenes since December. I came to the discussion with some notes, and here's what I figured:
  1. All of these cases have the same MO: a gasoline-soaked tire starts the blaze.
  2. One of the locations (which was hit twice) had an ongoing housing dispute.
  3. Slices of toast are terrible witnesses, but make an excellent breakfast. Interrogated one for seemingly obvious connection, knew nothing. Sent downtown on unrelated charges.
Seemed to me a possible angle was vigilantism: someone was tracking down social issues and making a thing of them; although I wasn't convinced they'd put the curse on anyone--thinking instead the object was the message and the damage. Franklin's gut told him there was something else, and he tossed in a racial motive. At first, I wasn't sold, but we kept it on the table.

We started by filling in a map of the fire locations over some brews. I had one printed from Google which covered the area I thought most of them were. Using local sources, we painted a picture of a neighborhood in flames.

Local Sources:
We quickly realized that this has been going on for a lot longer than the past six months. Some quick research turned up some more:
Clearly, this was a little bigger than we expected, and I was starting to buy into the race theory. Most of the names mentioned in the articles were of Hispanic origin, all of them were those affected by these fires. One that seemed like the anomaly was the original fire at Maria's Salon, which had a different MO than the others. Our theory, assuming that these are not copycats, is that the original arson was a sort of experiment for our boy, and that the tires were a later addition--some might say an evolution.

We felt it was a good moment to take a break for some real hard vice. So we went through a half dozen vegan peanut butter cookies I'd baked the night before.
That's when a beep sounded from Franklin's pocket, and he spent a few minutes on the horn with his dame while I filled in the calendar with some dates. Despite misreading one of the Franklin's notes on the map, I did notice a pattern develop over the last few months. With the exception of March, there has been at least one fire every month since December. Which means three things:
  • Something set him off, what Forensic Shrinks refer to as a "Stresser"
  • Something stopped him in March.
  • The Boys in Red have been kept busy.
Not that the last note helps at all, but the Firefighters deserve credit.

There was a moment of panic when I smelled burning, and we thought that the arsonist had already tracked us here, to our office. Then I remembered we were still smoking cigars--those things'll kill you.

One other angle we needed to explore was where he was getting these tires from, and how he was transporting them. If he is getting them from a junkyard, which junkyard? My initial take on the Auto Body Shop was that it was an anomaly and he used it to restock on tires--however, uncovering the other articles proved that the houses were the anomalies. So the big questions we were left with were:
  • Where was he getting the tires, and how was he lugging them?
  • What is the connection? If it is race, how was he choosing targets?
Having reached what we felt was a suitable place for the evening, we threw back another few beers and talked for a while. We tried to figure out if Boston was surprisingly grungy for a clean city, or if it was the other way around. As night fell on the city, the chick next door started an art project--she called up to us once about how we looked like we drank from the same bottle; we told her that this is because we're partners, in solving crime. Then we headed into the waiting room for some research on race relations: Die Hard With a Vengeance.

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