Solving Crime With Carpenter Ants | Laura Belgrave
Claudia Hershey and Creative Tactics To Nail Bad Guys
Have you ever found yourself in a weird circumstance where you just had to be inventive to explain something or work yourself out of a bad situation? Well, if you’ve already read In the Spirit of Murder, then you know my main character, top-drawer Detective Lieutenant Claudia Hershey, has resorted to ploys more than once — including one involving Florida carpenter ants.
Here’s a portion of that scene from the novel where she makes something up after a long and physically exhausting chase after a teenager from a house to a wooded area. She didn’t give up easily, but neither did the kid. Have a read:
“Here’s the plan,” Claudia said. She grimaced trying to work a Charley horse out of her left calf. “We’re going to walk very slowly back, but before we do I want to know who the hell you are.”
The boy looked to be seventeen, maybe eighteen. His hair was greasy, and as black as his clothes. A clot of dirt stuck to his right ear. He looked at Claudia from beneath hooded eyes, then shrugged.
“Go play with your gun. I ain’t gotta tell you nuthin’,” he said. “I know my rights.”
“Yeah?” Claudia pushed the youth against a tree. “You also know what carpenter ants are, kid?”
He just looked at her.
“I do because I had them in my kitchen once. They’re big buggers, the size of paper clips. And they’re called carpenter ants because they eat wood. Raw. The only thing they like better is flesh.” Claudia looked just above the kid’s head. “They can strip a rabbit in ten minutes. Don’t know how long it takes to peel skin off a body, but maybe we can find out.” Looking above him once more, Claudia said, “There’s a little trail of the big guys making their way down the tree to your face right now.”
Squirming, the kid tried to crane his neck to see. Claudia wouldn’t let him. She showed him a thin smile. “Oh, just relax, for heaven’s sake. I’m a law officer, sworn to protect you. I wouldn’t let them get past your ears, not really.” It was one of Claudia’s more imaginative ruses. She knew zip about carpenter ants, but so what, the kid didn’t either. The ploy worked just swell. “Now come on, Claudia said. “We’re both tired. The ants are hungry.” She raised her voice, gouged him with a look, and pressed him tighter against the tree. “What’s your damned name?”
“Robert,” he said, all fight gone. “Robert Lindstrom.”
Buddy. Buddy Lindstrom.
Claudia grinned, gave him slack, and clamped a hand around his arm. She holstered her gun.
“You’re under arrest, Buddy,” she said.
By the way, Carpenter ants aren’t unique to Florida, although in Florida they’re more reddish than black. And, in fact, when threatened they can bite and spray formic acid for defense against predators. They grow from 1/4 inch to about nearly an inch in length, making these goliaths one of the largest of all ant species. Most aren’t interested in the interior of a home. However, they do like to nest in partially decayed wood, so yeah, eventually they’re likely to make it into homes, keeping pest control services with a steady call for help.
Learn more about my Claudia Hershey Mystery Series, In the Spirit of Murder, Quietly Dead and Deadly Associations on my website. All my full-length novels are also available as paperback. You’ll also find the 99¢ short story prequel to the first of the series called Halloween Jeopardy, plus one out-of-series humorous book called Funny Money. While you’re on my site, please do sign up for my newsletter for occasional deals. And please, feel free to share this with your friends and family!