Solv-a-Crime take 2

Solv-a-CrimeThe last Solv-a-Crime challenge was fun, so here’s another poser for the Bank Holiday.

The Case of the Room-mate’s Remains

You drive to an old boardinghouse near the university and knock on the door of a room on the second floor. Jerry Morgan, who lets you in, phoned you 20 minutes ago. His room-mate, Tom Hart, lies on the floor, with a switchblade sticking out of his chest.

You check the body. Hart has obviously been dead for several hours. Near the body is a chair on which several raincoats have been carelessly thrown. In the pockets of the topmost raincoat, you find a .38 caliber gun.

‘That’s mine,’ Morgan says. ‘I have a license.’

You examine the other raincoat and find only a pair of leather gloves and an empty liquor flask. You ask Morgan for his story.

‘I sacked out early last night,’ he says. ‘About 10:30, I guess, and I fell asleep right away. Then I was suddenly awakened. All the lights were on, and Tom was stumbling around the room. I hadn’t seen him all evening, but he must’ve been doing some heavy drinking. He was pretty far gone.

‘Well, I told him to take it easy and go to bed. After a lot of fumbling, he managed to get his raincoat off and throw it on the chair. Then he fell into bed. I fell asleep again too. When I woke up this morning about seven, there he was on the floor – with that knife stuck in him!

‘Somebody must’ve come in during the night – maybe one of those gambler friends of his. You know, he told me once that he’d been losing a lot, and he gave out some IOUs that he didn’t think he could make good. Anyway, as soon as I recovered from the shock, I phoned you.’

‘Did you disturb or touch anything here before or after phoning me?’ you ask.

‘Oh no. I’ve read enough detective stories to know better than to do that.’

‘In fact,’ you say, ‘I think you know more about this murder than you’ve told me. I want you to start telling me the truth!’

What part of Morgan’s story has made you suspicious?


About pastoffences

Past Offences exists to review classic crime and mystery books, with ‘classic’ meaning books originally published before 1987.
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20 Responses to Solv-a-Crime take 2

  1. Ho-Ling says:

    If Hart had only returned after Morgan had gone to bed, Hart’s raincoat should be on top, not Morgan’s.

    (if this was a different kind of story, one could of course raise the objection that Morgan’s gun =/= Morgan’s coat, or that flask =/= Hart’s coat, but I’m going to guess this story won’t go there)


  2. kaggsysbookishramblings says:

    Yup – definitely the raincoats!:)


  3. Santosh Iyer says:

    Yes, I agree with Ho-Ling.


  4. Santosh Iyer says:

    Perhaps Brad can come up with a more creative solution ! 🙂


  5. realthog says:

    Wot Ho-Ling said.

    Plus: No vomit.


  6. Brad says:

    Yes, the raincoats are key, but not in the way you think:

    After Hart left for the evening, Morgan dressed in full drag with a gorgeous blonde wig (all men who get caught up with gamblers prefer blondes – Clue #1), drank some liquid courage from his pocket flask, squeezed into the leather gloves (women’s gloves – Clue #2) and followed Tom to his favorite scuzzy bar, The Drowned Rat. (This bar provides no peanuts or matchbooks to its patrons; the absence of any stray peanut or matches in Tom’s pocket constitutes Clue #3!) there, Morgan flirted with Hart, plied him with liquor, and when his back was turned, Morgan stabbed his roommate and fled the scene, returning home and changing into pajamas.

    Too drunk to realize he had been fatally stabbed, Hart returned home where he was greeted by his roommate who, too shocked to do anything about it, went back to bed. Hart stumbled out of his raincoat, no small feat since it had been impaled onto his body by a switchblade, and fell to the floor – dead. Morgan had to claim that the top raincoat was his so that the detective wouldn’t spot the knife mark on the back. But obviously, it was Tom who carried the :38, as all men menaced by gamblers must (Clue #4).

    The motive? The author claims that “several” raincoats lay on the chair, indicating three (Clue #5) The bottom raincoat belonged to Fiona Blatch, Tom’s girlfriend, who was found hiding under Morgan’s bed three days after his arrest. Morgan was obsessed with her and would do anything – even murder – to make her his.

    And yet, he made one fatal mistake. He told the detective that he had “turned in early,” but he had not accounted for the difficulty of running to and from the bar in heels. When the detective arrived at the boardinghouse, Morgan looked exhausted!

    How’s that, Santosh?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. tracybham says:

    And this is why I cannot solve puzzle crimes. I did notice “several” raincoats and could not figure out why more than two.


    • JJ says:

      Ah, but it starts off as several and then plies there are only two – you examine one and then “the other raincoat” singular. So some raincoats have been hidden while the first was being examined. I find that mighty suspicious…and since Jerry is the only other person there, he is to be suspected.


      • realthog says:

        You mean Tom was killed by the Mob because he knew too much about the stolen-raincoat racket that’s been going on? And our cop investigator’s busy framing Morgan for the crime because he’s on the take? This is all beginning to make sense to me now . . .

        Only, where’s the dame?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Brad says:

        Ai told you – she’s under Morgan’s bed! And she’s a knockout . . . except for the harelip.


      • realthog says:

        So she’s not only Tom’s moll but also the snitch who’s been keeping tabs on events for reforming Commissioner McGillicuddy? Our corrupt detective is in for a nasty surprise when he tries to put the frame on Morgan . . .

        So were the high heels that Morgan may or may not have used in fact Fiona’s? And did she hide under the bed because too embarrassed to be seen out without her heels? And were they bugged?

        Everything that seemed so pellucid just a few minutes ago is now all clouded again . . .


      • Brad says:

        Rich, since realthog and I solved this one together, I think we should select the May year-in-review. We’ll split the digits: I pick one and seven . . .


      • JJ says:

        The dame is Tom’s sister Carol who was engaged to Morgan bur having an affair with our detective. Withe her brother dead and her fiancé possibly responsible, it’s up to our downtrodden shamus to get justice for her.


  8. pastoffences says:

    I’m amazed none of you have picked up on the ‘shock’. Obviously this was typically under-maintained student accommodation with a leaking ceiling and poor wiring. Jerry received a near fatal electrocution whilst plugging in his ipad (or whatever modern students have), was thrown into his bed, and hallucinated his entire statement.

    Whilst Jerry was unconsciously fizzing away, The gambling ring consisting of Tom, Commissioner McGillicuddy, Harry Stephen Keeler and Fiona ‘harelip’ Blatch came in out of the rain and played a quick game of Russian roulette with the switchblade. Tom, as we have read, lost.The others ran away. As it had stopped raining, they no longer needed their coats.

    OK Brad and John, you can pick the year together. John, you get to do the remaining digits (there’s a list here


  9. pastoffences says:

    For the record:

    Morgan said that after Tom Hart woke him up, he threw his raincoat on the chair and fell into bed – and that he, Morgan, had disturbed nothing. Yet you found Morgan’s coat lying on top of Hart’s.


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