(Image credit: Flickr user Andy)
It was late at night at the Drakemore Hotel. A member of the cleaning staff was dusting the courtesy phones in the lobby when she heard the breaking of glass in the side lobby. And then the alarm went off.
The side lobby contained a display case holding memorabilia from the Drakemore's opening fifty years ago: the hotel's first menu, a laughably antiquated price list for rooms, a few rare coins and stamps from that year, photographs, and the dusty signatures of the first famous guests.
The night manager showed up a few seconds later. He and the staff member circled the lobby and discovered three guests who had been in the vicinity. Diplomatically but firmly, the manager suggested all three remain in the lobby until the police arrived.
"We've had them under constant observation," the manager told the responding officer. He pointed to a woman reading in an armchair. "Ms. Oakley said she had just returned from a business dinner. She was very cooperative. Just sat down and pulled a book out of her briefcase."
"Mr. Brier said he'd come down from his room to get some aspirin from the front desk. His wife had a headache. When we detained him, he called his wife on one of the pay phones. I listened in. He told her he would be delayed and not to worry."
The manager pointed to the last suspect, a sloppily dressed young man who looked like he'd had one too many. "Mr. Greenleaf had been in the hotel bar. The bartender refused to serve him any more alcohol, so he wandered in here. We found him by the elevator, jamming his finger into the 'up' button."
"Whoever did this wasn't counting on an alarm," the manager continued. "Perhaps he was scared off before he took anything. We may never know who tried to rob us."
"I have a good idea who it was," the officer said. "One of the suspects did something odd. Just let me have one thing checked."
Whom does the officer suspect and why?
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.