Okay guys. So here it is. The solution to the final mystery of the Hy Conrad’s Win a Kindle Fire Mystery Contest. After today, I’ll begin tallying all the correct answers (as well as all the times you’ve told me you shared the blog posts). For each correct answer and each time you’ve shared, your name will be added to the pool one time for a total of eight entries. On Wednesday, I will announce the Grand Prize Winner who will be getting themselves a brand new Amazon Kindle Fire!
I hope, whether you’ve participated in this contest or not, you’ve enjoyed these little brain-teasing mystery puzzles I’ve shared this last week. They are perfect examples of why I believe Hy Conrad, the author of RALLY ‘ROUND THE CORPSE (and the writer/producer of TV’s MONK) is one of the most diabolically clever mystery writers out there today. I also hope you’ll give his debut mystery novel a try. I promise you…if you like great whodunnits, you will NOT be disappointed. Here’s a link to the book page on Amazon, just in case you want to give it a try:
But enough of that. You want to know the solution to Mystery #4, don’t you? Of all of them, this was my favorite for some reason. It wasn’t as tricky or as difficult as some of the previous ones, but it certainly required a great deal of deductive reasoning. It was just plain fun to solve in my opinion. Anyway, as usual, here is the mystery in full and followed immediately by the solution. By the way, if you sent me your answers…good luck to each of you!
THE TRAYMORE JOB
Amy had spent a lazy morning at home and would be opening up late. It didn’t matter, she told herself, since her first customers never trickled in until after 11. But as rounded the corner of Hudson Street and saw the insurance investigator’s car parked in front of “Abel Adventures”, her heart sank. She knew this car well and it was never good news.
As she walked closer, she could see that the trouble wasn’t at her travel agency, but at the shop next door. Traymore Jewelers was a Village institution, a dusty emporium that somehow survived on even less business than Amy’s. Toby Traymore, the owner, stood just inside the door, answering one last question from Gregory Till, the investigator from United Insurance.
“It kept pretty good time,” replied Toby. He gazed mournfully at the mantle clock that had been knocked from its perch behind the counter. It now lay broken on the hardwood floor, its hands permanently frozen at 7:47. “I wound it yesterday morning and re-set the hands. It’s been in this shop for decades, since I was a kid.”
You had to look closely to realize there’d been a burglary. The average passerby might never have noticed the broken lock on the metal grate or the pried-open doorjamb. But inside the shop, rows of old fashioned jewelry were no longer on display, their red velvet cases ripped and empty. Traymore’s had been cleaned out.
Amy shared a few words of comfort with Toby, the same way he had comforted her when her place had been broken into a few months before. Then, after Toby wandered back inside to wallow in his misery, Amy turned and said hello to Gregory.
“This block is bad luck,” he said, returning to his notes. “At least your place didn’t have real valuables. No offense.”
“None taken.” Amy’s eyes drifted to the alarm box on the side wall. “Did the alarm go off?”
“No,” said Gregory, shaking his head. “It’s an old model, fairly easy to jimmy and shut down. Unfortunately, there’s no log-clock telling us when it was turned off. And no security camera. A burglary waiting to happen.”
“And when did it happen?”
“Last night. Toby and his assistant locked up around 5. They both recall setting the alarm. The clock was broken at 7:47, so the police are setting that as the approximate time. A patrol car drove by a little after eight and noticed the broken lock on the grate. By then the place had been emptied out.” There was something about Gregory’s tone.
“You think it was an inside job,” guessed Amy.
“That’s what my instincts say.” Gregory shrugged. “Three people used the system and knew how bad it was. But they all have alibis. Toby, for example… He says he was home alone. A pathetic story. But Toby’s upstairs neighbor locked himself out of his apartment. He knocked on Toby’s door and came in for a drink, waiting until his wife got home with the keys. So Toby has a solid alibi between 7:30 and 8 p.m.”
“How about the assistant? Miranda?”
“Yeah, Miranda.” Gregory checked his notes. “Miranda was also home, over in Queens. But the UPS man dropped off a package around 7:30 and she signed for it. Her place is at over a half-hour from here, so her flimsy alibi is ironclad.”
“You said three people,” Amy prodded.
“The third was Igor Medjavich, a cleaning service employee. He cleans the store every other Monday. That means he has keys and knows the alarm. His alibi is that he was at night school. The CUNY campus on 24th Street. Every Tuesday from 7 p.m. until 9.”
“Another solid alibi. Did the police dust?”
“They did. The alarm was clean. So were the door and the register and the broken clock and the display cabinets. They did find prints in the shop. But Toby and Miranda and Igor would naturally leave prints Who knows? Maybe I’m wrong.”
Amy liked Gregory. A few months ago it was a different story. A few months ago, Gregory had held up her insurance claim, saying the same thing, that the burglary at “Abel Adventures” had been an inside job. It had taken a murder to convince him – and the police – that he was wrong.
“You’re not wrong,” Amy told him. “Not this time. It was an inside job.”
“How do you know?”
“Well, first of all, there were no prints on the clock.”
Gregory had to stop for a minute and think. It didn’t help. “Okay, you lost me. What does the lack of prints tell you?”
“It was an inside job,” Amy repeated. “And who the burglar was. Probably. I can’t be 100 percent sure.”
WHAT DID THE LACK OF PRINTS SIGNIFY?
WHO IS THE MOST LIKELY SUSPECT?
“None of this will hold up in court,” Amy allowed. “But it’s logical.”
Gregory’s job was to be logical about insurance fraud, so he took this statement as a challenge. “Well, Toby said he wound the clock yesterday. So ‘no prints’ means someone else touched the clock then wiped it down.”
“And why would someone touch the clock then wipe it down?”
Gregory was catching on. “Because he or she changed the hands and then smashed the clock – to mislead us about the time.” He checked his notes. “7:47.”
“And why would he or she want to mislead us about the time?” Amy enjoyed being pedantic like this. It was a kind of payback.
“Because the thief knew he’d have an alibi for 7:47.” Gregory sighed and looked disappointed. “Amy, they all have alibis for 7:47.”
“Yes,” admitted Amy. “But two of those are accidental. Miranda couldn’t guarantee the UPS driver would come by at 7:30. And Toby couldn’t predict his neighbor would knock on his door. It was just luck. But Igor had the same class every week, a foolproof alibi with a dozen witnesses. My guess is he broke in shortly after they closed up. Afterwards, he set the clock, smashed it and went off to his class.”
So…how’d ya do? I hope you did great and I seriously can’t wait to give away that Kindle Fire to the grand prize winner! Just stay tuned on Wednesday (July 4th!) to see if you won!!!
And remember…please spread the word about Hy Conrad and Rally ‘Round the Corpse! As Monk always says, “You’ll thank me later.”