Sid Smoltz. Need I say anymore? What’s that you say? Don’t know Sid Smoltz? Oh you will. Sid Smoltz. (Shaking my head) A big man with a big head.
“Nobody’s ever been arrested for a murder; they have only ever been arrested for not planning it properly.”
― Terry Hayes, I Am Pilgrim
Motives for Murder: Envy. Hatred. Anger. Pressure. Revenge. Greed.
I’m sure you could add another dozen motives for murder but it all reduces down to removal of competition. Yes, competing with the ego of another.
How many murders have there been in Hamilton, New Hampshire and the surrounds? The first inclination when thinking about the number of murders in this small town would be to begin stammering like a drunken fool. But rest assured ‘suspension of disbelief‘ has been inoculated into more area citizens than the Covid-19 vaccine in the United States. Especially Matthias Jones. More than anyone when there is a murder Jones slips into his side road theory mode and treats each murder as if it were the first murder ever!
Where is Sid?
Sid Smoltz doesn’t appear right away and the only reason he does appear is because he went to school with Lark Larsen at Kokomo U. Lark is the cheapest man on the planet. Lark needs a lawyer and fancies himself not paying a cent to his old friend... Sid Smoltz. (Shaking my head again)
Even if you ‘re a Stooges fan the following concept is universal: The crazy thinking they’re not crazy and doing collateral damage. In a Plumbing We Will Go the Stooges are penniless, thieving chicken thieves who become plumbers. If you’re Woke that’s not funny. But remember I asked you to suspend disbelief and I will now request laughter where appropriate. It’s okay to laugh.
Twice as Nice Plumbing
Funeral March for the Maestro does not begin with the murder. As an out of towner Jones gets snookered by Mookie and Kookie Bisbane of Twice as Nice Plumbing. They are literally destroying the plumbing system in Jones’s colonial on the common. Making matters worse is that the bizarre looking Bisbanes are identical twins. Jones, trying to relax in the middle of summer, can’t wait to get away from these screwballs and to his baseball camp at the college.
Being a little different is listed on most Hamilton residents’ resumes. But here’s the catch which I strongly want to impart because many times we assign all kinds of shibboleths to people, when in reality everyone on has something to offer. It’s just a matter of finding that something and not dwelling on preconceived clashes with your own assumptions!
So, where’s the murder, Fitton? Right next to the ball field of course in proximity of Jones. I remember my cousin when I first began the Jones series asking me why Jones was involved in the murder investigation. In this case, having him right there at the time of the murder is one reason. The music conservatory is inside the shaker barn beyond left field. As the camp practice moves forward Jones is harassed by the town’s leading harassers: Arnie Dewars and then Bucky Driscoll. who shows up after the murder. Lurking in the immediately area at the time of the murder is Jones’s predecessor, the not all held together Lark Larsen, now a prime suspect.
Let’s listen in on what will prove just another fatal morning of murder, mayhem, and monkey business in Hamilton New Hampshire.
To know who dun it one must know about those around the victim. Professor Arnold Neusbaum, husband of Helga Neusbaum, father of Bernice Neusbaum, who is the estranged wife of a man named Steve Corbett, once convicted of assault, now a suspect because he was in the area working for the college. Corbett is a bit slow, possibly because of an injury in the service. The Maestro was close to Mayor Picatta’s wife Lenore, a patron of the arts. He was an associate of Mick Dumas of the Mick Dumas Quartet, who play at Club Max in Prince William. And there’s Rex Neusbaum’s dog.
Many people in Hamilton have their own whacky theories about who has committed murder. It probably a good idea for Jones to consider all opinions. To assume otherwise may overlook the obvious.
With the beloved Lark Larsen in jail and in emotional turmoil Jones begins to study what happened inside the conservatory. Neusbaum owned money to Lark for his new Steinway piano. He learns quickly from Bernice that Steve Corbett knew that the Maestro was in the conservatory that morning. Jones wonders if the gun went off by accident Lark panicked and raced into the parking lot. When he finds Lenore Piccata snooping around the conservatory windows Jones begins a battery of questions. Then comes the twists and turns and more murders... And what about Mick Dumas, whose contract at the college was not renewed by Neusbaum, and is now preparing to move out of town?
Sid Smoltz to the rescue soon!
When I first wrote Matthias Jones the series was very serious. It’s not that I thought the humor would add a dimension to the series and make it unique. The characters just seeped into the story and the town like gummy characters an R.L. Stein story. Before I knew it the small town animated characters overtook the series structure. My home town had dozens of characters, albeit not as whacky as some I have created. Yet and I’m not kidding there were people in our town years ago when I was growing up who were very’ unique’ individuals. All with nicknames!
And I’m an unabashed child of TV. I watched exaggerated and stereotypical characters abounding in dozens of situation comedies, most set in a specific location. In the Matthias Jones series there are ‘normal’ characters such as Matthias Jones and George Strickland. The quirky locals just do not realize why Jones isn’t on the same plane.
What Universe is this?
An example of this is the spin off series Green Acres. Eddie Albert is a reasonable person, a New York lawyer yet Albert is the one who seems the uninformed dummy.
Bernard Fox was a bull in the China shop character as Dr. Bombay in Bewitched and Colonel Crittendon in Hogan’s Heroes- in the middle of World War II. Hogan’s plot survived despite the comedic interference. Colonel Crittenton was 100% sure that he was right. Yet no one seemed to realize this.
Sidney V.D. Smoltz, Lark’s attorney is arrogant, sloppy and loud. With Jones trying to clear Lark, Smoltz just pushes his way into the investigation. I guess Smoltz can be lumped into these humorous characters also…
Jones questions Mick Dumas at Club Max
Cocoa doesn’t make it into the book until Jones visits Club Max, always under the eye of the attractive Bibi. With Lark’s antics, and Bucky and Arnie trying to solve the crime and with Smoltz’s obstruction, Jones has his hands full. Not to mention Hamilton Fletcher’s interference!
Controlling the town, the college and the money from Fletcher Hill is Hamilton Fletcher. Having the Fletchers atop Mt. Olympus AKA Fletcher Hill is actually a critical part of the Jones Series. Hamilton Fletcher is savvy, smart, and substantial. He’s easily triggered– only he can do something about it. Bucky Driscoll in particular sets him off. (There’s an additional reason for that) He owns and controls everything!
Enter Sid Smoltz
And what about Sid Smoltz? He’s worth every penny that Lark didn’t have to pay for his services. There’s a reason why Sid isn’t practicing law down south. Don’t hire this guy!