I thought it was high time for another Solv-a-Crime. Usual thing – the best answer gets to choose next month’s year for Crimes of the Century, or, at the judge’s discretion, a cash prize of £100,000 in used bank notes left in a nondescript sports bag in the hollow tree of their choosing.
The Case of the Skewered Squire
You receive a late-night phone call and hot-foot it to the manor house just outside the village, arriving five minutes after receiving the call.
The smug-looking butler who opens the door acts surprised when you tell him he called you and told you his master had been murdered. “The master? Murdered? Impossible, sir!” He says he didn’t call you and tells you that as far as he knows, his master is upstairs in his study.
You insist on going upstairs to double-check. Finding the study door locked from the inside with the key in the lock, you shout to the occupant but get no answer. The oily butler helps you break down the heavy study door with a chair. Inside, you find the master of the house in his armchair by the fire – stabbed with a rare and ornate Tunisian dagger.
“Stabbed from be’ind. ‘Orrible!”
Sending the butler for help, you move quickly to double-check he is dead and sweep the crime scene for clues, being careful not to touch the body or handle the dagger again.
The dead man’s secretary, who seems surprisingly cheerful in the circumstances, tells you that the dagger was a gift from the Major, currently a guest at the house. Also staying there are an impoverished sister-in-law and her beautiful daughter, but they have been downstairs all evening.
“Hadn’t an enemy in the world,” says the Major quietly. “Must have been burglars. but what was the thief after? Nothing seems to be disarranged.”
An envelope seems to be missing from amongst the correspondence on the occasional table, and you see that the window had been opened.
Whom do you suspect, and why?