Life of a Writer. #17. Writing a Mystery. Progress Report.

Mystery:  Body Found in Basement Washroom of Church
Detective: Alistair Cosser
Identity of Victim: Unknown initially
Suspects: Hard to know until ID established
Location: Downtown Toronto
Time Frame: Mid 1990s?

First paragraphs:

Part One
Mid November

It was a gray Sunday in the middle of November when there had been no snow yet, but it was in the air and Alistair Cosser had hoped to have a quiet day enjoying the last of what had been an unusually spectacular fall season. Instead here he was showing his card with his name, Detective Sergeant Alistair Cosser, rank, telephone and badge numbers on it to the priest of the Church of the Holy Trinity in downtown Toronto.
“You’re the minister?” he said.
The first police officer on the scene had ensured that the steps from the main floor of the church to the basement were barricaded. Because there was a body in the washroom there, he had followed protocol and called a detective to take over. When the detective had arrived, he had very quickly assessed the situation and called homicide. This was when Cosser had come in, a man of medium height with brown hair with a slight wave in it. His fair reddish skin suggested in his youth he probably had freckles and a short tree trunk of a neck seemed almost to sit on top of his shoulders. He had immediately been briefed by the detective who had also made known to him that the man approaching them at that moment was the minister.
The priest now looked up from the card. “Yes. I’m the incumbent here,” he said as if he perhaps doubted the designation himself. “David Stinson.”
Alistair nodded, thinking this man the unlikeliest image of a minister he had ever encountered. Dressed in blue jeans with a fringe of unshaven hair on his face, it would have been  difficult to figure out his role here without asking. What Cosser did know was that this man had called 911 because of the discovery of the body of a woman on the church’s premises. He thought that if this were a murder, which could not be concluded until he had a handle on the case, it would be the forty-seventh in Toronto for the year. That was the average number for mid-November, but it did not make Alistair feel better because he knew only too well that every death had tentacles that reached into families and communities. And that until the police figured out who this woman was and what had happened to her, everyone would be on edge.
 “How many people have keys to the church?” the detective asked.
I do. The caretaker. The wardens,” the priest replied.
“How many wardens are there?”
“I’ll need their names.”
“Yes, of course. Only one of them is here this morning. The woman over there with red hair. Her name is Linda O’Reilly.”
Alistair nodded again. He was not a tall man, probably not more than five feet nine or ten. His ruddy cheeks suggested he enjoyed his liquor, but it was also part of having fair skin. His eyes were alert, darting around the room as he talked. Now they fastened on Linda O’Reilly and another woman, standing close together, neither saying a word.
“The woman with Linda is the person who discovered the body. I think she’s still in shock,” David Stinson said. “I don’t know her. She probably came over from the Eaton Centre to use the washroom. People do. If the church is open.”
 The church was a tall Gothic revival structure, its gray presence still imposing even though towered over by the Eaton Centre and a nearby hotel that acted as if they were the thick walls one might find around an ancient castle. When first on the drawing board, the developer had intended to demolish the church, but the uproar that created had led to a modified design that included it instead.
“I’ll talk to them first,” Alistair said. “And the other warden?”
Posted on April 25, 2013 .