Art Attack – A Detective Shelly Hobbs Mystery

This story was written for the Fandango Flash Fiction Challenge – the picture of Westminster Bridge above.

The story also included the Ragtag Daily prompt – Charcoal

Detective Shelly Hobbs has Starred in Four previous mysteries. Why not read those in order first.
Murder in the Menagerie
Clear as Tonic Water
Literary Legacy
Down the Drain

Let’s join Shelly for her latest Mystery.

Art Attack

Detective Shelly Hobbs requested to attend crime scene at the Galleria Vincenzo on St Benedict’s Street’

The text message arrived just as Shelly bit into her favourite cheesy southern-fried chicken burger. The detective could never resist a new crime and so she continued to eat as she drove her black Mercedes to the scene. St Benedict’s street was named after the medieval church and monastery of the same name. The monastery was destroyed during King Henry VIII’s dissolutions. The church still remained; it was before its grand black iron railings that Shelly parked her car.   

Alighting, she adjusted her suit jacket and retied her mahogany hair into a no-nonsense ponytail. She walked past the busy little Italian restaurant and smiled at Sergeant Jake Klass. The young street officer looked smart with his freshly preened short blonde hair and always rosy cheeks.

“Thank you for coming so quick, detective,” Jake greeted. “Oh, and nice job on catching that Gary Gaul last night.”

“Thanks, Jake. So, what are you getting me into today?” Shelly gave a suspicious look. The young sergeant always had the most bizarre mysteries for her.

“Vinnie Vincenzo was the owner of the Galleria Vincenzo.” Jake waved a hand at the terraced shop between the restaurant and a rundown vinyl records shop. The Galleria had a smart emerald green sign with bronze light fixtures. And two police guards blocking entry. “A passer-by noticed a man lying on the floor of the gallery. We can confirm it is Vinnie and he is dead.”

“He didn’t suffer an art attack, did he?” Shelly remarked as they ducked the police tape and entered the rose and light paint scented gallery. A screen had been placed in front of the deceased to prevent further pedestrians from seeing him.

“Ha-ha, no.” Jake chuckled. “In fact, by the scuff marks on his shoes, it appears he tripped and done an accidental Da Vinci.”

Shelly raised her eyebrows as she took in the bare walls. “He cut his ear off?”

“Not exactly. He has a paintbrush lodged deep in his ear.” Jake shuddered. “Gruesome injury.”

“Now, that’s suffering for one’s art.” Shelly pointed to the empty podiums and spaces between the brass wall sconces. “There’s not much art in here for a gallery. Any idea why?”

“That’s why I called you. There’s only one piece of art in the building.”

“So, you think theft and murder?” Shelly walked around the screen and dropped her view to the deceased victim. “Ouch!”

“Maybe – erm … I don’t think he’d have been so polite if he were alive long enough to speak.”

“Quite!” Shelly saw the deceased had on a smart royal blue suit with dust marks on the right side. He was lying in a small pool of blood. His right patent-black shoe was scuffed along the outer edge. The only injury seemed to be the paintbrush handle lodged in his right ear up to the bristles. “Was he found this way?”

“Yeah, I rolled him on his back to check for signs of life is all,” Jake confirmed.

“Thanks, Shelly followed his shoes to the wall and up to the only picture in the place. It was a charcoal and chalk sketch signed by a ‘JP-‘ The sketch was of a view of the Houses of Parliament from Westminster Bridge. They and the Elizabeth Tower, home of ‘Big Ben’ the bell, were enshrouded in a typical London fog. A classic three sconce street lamp on the bridge held the forefront and was exquisitely detailed. The bronze plate read ‘Capital Fog.’ “Hmm, so if this was a theft. We can safely say our suspects are against the government, then.”

“Yeah, I reckon the Prime Minster upset them; so the idea of stealing his office didn’t appeal,” Jake replied with a grin.

Shelly walked around the screen and followed blood drops and scuffs on the polished floorboards to the desk. It had the customary phone, computer screen and several pens and paintbrushes in a pot. A diary there indicated three booked viewings for artworks this morning below its pencil. ‘Mr Jim Pearson 9:00. Mr A Colpevole 9:40 and Ms Gertrude Caviller 10:15.’ Each with mobile phone numbers listed. Shelly noticed the second name was pencilled in whilst the other two were in blue pen.   

“I have officers tracking them both down,” Jake confirmed. “I assume they came to look at missing pieces.”

 “Maybe. It’ll be interesting to see what the two know.” Shelly went to a rear door and tried the handle.

“I could find no key for the door in the desk or the on the deceased. Thought it better to wait for you to break in.”

“Thanks. Let’s get in there.” Shelly stood aside.

“Yes, ma’am.” Jake stepped forth and raised a foot.

“Not that way!” Shelly stalled him. She walked to the front door and took a bunch of keys from the lock. “Use these.”

Jake looked sheepish as he began trying keys. He soon found the right one and opened the door.

“Thank you.” Shelly entered, flicked on the light and whistled. “Okay! He wasn’t robbed then.” The storeroom wasn’t large but it was stacked with canvases paintings. Glass framed watercolours and open crates of statues.  

“So, what? Was he decorating do you think?” Jake asked.

“It does smell like fresh paint was put up in the last few days, out there.” Shelly walked between the creates and came upon another charcoal drawing of Westminster Bridge and the houses of parliament. A carbon copy of the one on the wall of the gallery. “I —”

‘Officer Barker to Sergeant Klass, please.” Came a radio call from Jake’s bulletproof vest.

“This Jake, go ahead Steve,” Jake answered at once.

“Okay, we’ve found Ms Caviller. She reports that she tried to call the gallery to cancel her viewing due to an extended hair appointment. Mr A Colpevole’s details are not in the system. The phone number does not exist either. Mr Pearson admits to viewing a portrait and then leaving. He says Vinnie was perfectly fine when he left.”

“Thank you, Steve. I…”

“He’s lying. Have Pearson arrested for murder.” Shelly requested.  

Jake nodded. “You heard the detective, bring him in please.”

“Roger that, Jake. On my way.” Steve replied.

“Okay, I’m all ears. Will the Mistress of Mystery Solving reveal the secrets?” Jake said.

Shelly grinned, “Ooh, Jake. I like that.” She stepped back into the gallery and approached the painting on the wall. Mr Jim Pearson is the artist who drew the charcoal sketch. He was coming to see how it looked on the wall and he saw this.”

“Yeah, so, his picture,” Jake said.

“Not this one, it’s fake. The real one is out the back.” Shelly indicated the deceased Gallery owner. “We’ll have to prove it, but it seems our friend here was duplicating art without permission so he could double his money. Pearson seems to have rumbled him and they argued. At some point, Pearson grabs the brush from the desk and it ends up lodged in Vinnie’s ear.”

Jake looked perplexed. “Can we prove it?”

“I think so. The dirt on his suit and the scuffs to his shoes, prove Vinnie survived his artistic impalement, to begin with. He dragged himself to the desk leaving the blood trail and wrote ‘Mr A Colpevole 9:40’s details.’ in his diary before crawling back to the painting and dying.”

“Which means?” Jake asked.

Shelly grinned. “Colpevole is Italian for guilty. Vinnie was saying ‘A is guilty’ ‘A’ or ‘one’ on his list is Mr Pearson. I think he coded his message in case Pearson came back and found his message.”

“Nice work, Detective.” Jake looked impressed.

Shelly just smiled. A few hours later she would get a confession from Mr Pearson and close the case.

The End

Thanks for reading my friends. As always there are more stories to be enjoyed (I hope) in the Short Stories and Short Stories 2 tabs.

Have a great day!

5 thoughts on “Art Attack – A Detective Shelly Hobbs Mystery

Add yours

  1. Well done, Mason. My younger brother is a former landscape artist and I got a kick out of reading this story and thinking of him. Shelly and Jake are great. It’s a nice series and very entertaining. I’m looking forward to more of them 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww, thank you, Jim. I enjoy this little series. Brings me back to Holly a little bit.

      I always wanted to paint, I could never get above a 3 year olds attempt lol.

      Pleased this resonated with you. thanks fo reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. There are also other types of down jackets that you can get. You will find jackets that are made out of down that you can lay on the ground. These are called goose down and you will want to make sure that you choose this type of down jacket because of how warm it is.


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