The following is a Whodunit by Hy Conrad featuring Sherman Oliver Holmes, a mysterious crime solver and great-great-grandson of Sherlock Holmes. Can you solve the crime?
Sergeant Gunther Wilson rolled the library ladder over the shards of glass and water, then climbed to the top rung. "This skylight must be how the thief got in," he said, pointing to the smashed skylight and the rope dangling down into the room from a crossbeam. "Forensics can use this ladder to dust for prints."
"There won't be any prints," said a familiar, high-pitched voice. The sergeant gazed down to see Sherman Holmes standing below him in the university's research library.
"What're you doing here?" Wilson barked.
"The victim asked me to help out."
Sherman, it turned out, was a friend of Professor Plotny, the man who had acquired the small Etruscan statue that had just been stolen.
"I spent a fortune of my own money on that statuette." The burly professor wrung his hands. "I left it on the center table when I exited the building last night. I locked the door. But, of course, anyone up on the roof could have looked in and seen it."
Sergeant Wilson shook his head. "No thief goes around rooftops with a rope, just hoping someone left valuables on a table. It had to be someone who knew the statuette and knew your rather careless habits."
A small, wiry man stepped forward, brandishing an authentic English accent Sherman would have killed for. "Next to no one knew about the statue, officer. I'm Donald Westbank, an Etruscan expert. I arrived yesterday from London. Dr. Plotny and I examined the statue together and, frankly, I was thrilled. What a find! I was a little jet-lagged, so I left the library around six, just in time for that little storm you had. I took a cab to the hotel and ordered from room service. When I got here this morning, I found Gina, the professor's assistant, unlocking the doors."
Gina, an athletic-looking graduate student, came forward with her story. "I left Professor Plotny and Mr. Westbank here yesterday at 5:30 p.m. My dorm room is just around the block. I did some studying until seven, when the rain stopped. Then I joined a friend at the Cathay Cafe for Chinese food. I got back to my room around 8:30."
"And your dorm building is on the other side of this block?" Wilson asked. "Are the roofs all connected?"
"How would I know if the roofs are connected?" she said. "And I resent your implication."
"So do I," the professor added. "It must have been an outsider. If you want to know my whereabouts...I left the library around 7:15 to drive to my brother's for a birthday party. I spent the night with his family and was the last one to get back here this morning."
Sergeant Wilson took Sherman Holmes aside. "I'm in the dark," he whispered. "But I know you've got it all figured out."
"As a matter of fact, no," Sherman lied. "I haven't a clue."
WHO STOLE THE STATUE?
WHAT CLUE POINTS TO THE THIEF?
The whodunit above was provided by American mystery fiction author Hy Conrad.
In addition to his work in mystery and crime puzzles, Hy was also one of the original writers for the groundbreaking TV series Monk.