I’m quite partial to the quirkier end of crime publishing, so I was delighted to pick up Solv-a-Crime in subterranean bookshop Skoob Books last week.
47 ‘short short mysteries’ run alphabetically from ‘The Case of the Artist’s Accident’ to ‘The Case of the Woodpile Burial’. Each 2-page story asks you to solve a mini-mystery. Some are simple, some I got but for the wrong reasons, some are eluding me entirely.
Here’s an example to give you a flavour… answers will be revealed next week if nobody gets it (which seems unlikely). The first correct answer can choose the year for next month’s Crimes of the Century.
The Case of the Body in the Barn
You arrive at the large country house of wealthy Keith Kendall. Terry Ahearn and Don Benning, the junior partners in Kendall’s firm, lead you to the barn at the rear of the house. Inside, lying faceup on the floor, is Kendall’s corpse, with a kitchen knife sticking out of his chest.
You dust the handle of the knife and find one set of well-defined fingerprints. Then you take prints of Ahearn and Benning, and compare them with the ones on the knife.
“The only prints on the knife are yours, Ahearn,” you say. “But you’ve told me the knife comes from the kitchen in the house and that you haven’t been in the kitchen all day.”
“I can explain,” Ahearn replies. “Don and I drove here today on business. When we couldn’t find Mr. Kendall in the house, we started looking for him. The estate is so large, Don and I separated. When I got to the barn, there was Mr. Kendall, with that knife in him! I started to pull the knife out – that’s how my fingerprints got on it – and that’s just when Don came walking in.”
Don Benning says, “You can imagine my horror when I walked into the barn and found Terry bent over the body – holding a knife! His face turned pale when he looked up and saw me.”
“It happened as I said!” shouts Ahern. “I had no reason to -”
“How about that argument you had with him yesterday?” Benning says. “You told me afterwards that you were fed up with his constant criticism, and you were going to do something drastic about it!”
“I didn’t kill him,” Ahern mumbles. He turns to you. “Could it have been suicide?”
“No, it wasn’t suicide,” you say. “It was murder, and I’m taking one of you with me for questioning!”
Whom do you suspect, and why?
A. C. Gordon, adapted by Lewis Gardner
Published in the US, 1972, by Scholastic Book Services
Source: Skoob Books
Final destination: A keeper