Whodunit: An Attack of Gas

The following is a Whodunit by Hy ConradThese mysteries are from The Little Giant® Book of Whodunits by Hy Conrad and Matt LaFleur. Can you solve the mystery before you read the solution?

(Image credit: Flickr user Ann Fisher)

The island of Canary Rock had no police force and none was really needed—not until the fateful morning when Gerald Espy was found dead in his bed. The millionaire had been laid up with a broken leg, and although the local doctor was adept at setting bones, he was not well versed in murder. It wasn't until he saw the dead cat curled up in a corner that he even suspected foul play.

"Poison gas," the inspector guessed when he arrived. An empty glass container on the table was the primary evidence. "Pour one chemical on another." He pointed to the dead flies on the windowsill at the east end of the room. "In less than a minute everything in the room would be dead."

The body had been discovered by Espy's son, Melvin. "I was out with some friends on my boat. I dropped them off at about midnight, then motored back to Canary Rock. There were no lights on at the house, but every now and then the moon would peek through. I figured Dad was asleep. So I locked up the house and went straight to bed. This morning, I went to check up. He was dead."

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Whodunit: Eye Spy

The following is a Whodunit by Hy ConradThese mysteries are from The Little Giant® Book of Whodunits by Hy Conrad and Matt LaFleur. Can you solve the mystery before you read the solution?

(Image credit: Flickr user Peter Morgan)

The American agent used his skeleton keys to work on the lock while his female partner acted as lookout. It was hard to see clearly in the dreary hall light in the dreary apartment building in the dreary winter weather of Beijing. But David Richman finally cracked the mechanism and opened the door.

"Hurry," he whispered, motioning for Julia to join him. Inside it was just as chilly as the hall.

"We're looking for photographic negatives," he told Julia for perhaps the tenth time. "35 millimeter. Lu Ching hasn't had time to reduce them any further. Thank goodness it's a small apartment."

It was small, all right. The tiny studio contained a futon bed that doubled as a sofa. There were also a bookcase, a table, two chairs, and an old-fashioned desk fan that whirred noisily on top of a cluttered desk. A hot plate served as the apartment's kitchen. From a small adjoining bathroom came the sound of a leaky toilet.

"We have to find them," David whispered as he went directly for the bookcase. "The lives of a dozen Chinese contacts depend on our finding those eight negatives." He was already going through the books page by page, checking the covers for any telltale slits where the agent for the People's Republic might have stuffed them.

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Whodunit: Killer Camp Food

The following is a Whodunit by Hy ConradThese mysteries are from The Little Giant® Book of Whodunits by Hy Conrad and Matt LaFleur. Can you solve the mystery before you read the solution?

(Image credit: Flickr user Alan English CPA)

The Tafel nephews had finally persuaded their sedentary Uncle Gil to go camping with them. "I love food and I hate discomfort," the heavyset man protested as he wedged his huge frame into the four-wheel drive. "This will be the death of me."

On the first evening it poured. The nephews all pitched in, building a fire and setting up a rain cover for food preparation. The ensuing meal was haphazard, with each camper fixing a plate for himself, then scurrying back to his own tent and eating alone.

As they finished their meal, the rain stopped. Ed, the eldest, was the first one out of his tent. "I hope Uncle Gil got enough to eat," he said as he surveyed the empty pots.

His youngest brother joined him under the dripping tarp. "You can bet on it," Richie said, flashing his usual, dazzling white smile. "I saw him going back for thirds."

The middle brother, Pete, was the last one out. They washed the pots in the river, then, on their way back, stopped by Uncle Gil's tent. He lay collapsed among his empty plates. Dead.

"A heart attack," Pete deduced. "I mean, it couldn't have been the food. We all ate the same things."

"Not quite." Richie was eyeing the dead man's glass. "Maybe it was the wine. I don't drink white wine and Ed doesn't drink at all."

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Whodunit: Good Neighbor Policy

The following is a Whodunit by Hy ConradThese mysteries are from The Little Giant® Book of Whodunits by Hy Conrad and Matt LaFleur. Can you solve the mystery before you read the solution?

(Image credit: Flickr user Peter Kemmer)

 "I was trying to be a good neighbor," Jake Spado told the sergeant. "I was watching TV at about midnight when Shamus started barking next door. The Whitakers were away. So out I went in the driving rain. I made a circuit of the Whitaker house. Everything seemed safe and secure, so I went back home." Jake bristled. "And here's the thanks I get, being suspected of burglary."

The other neighbor told a slightly different story. Millie Overlock had been awakened by the barking. "I finally got up and looked out. By the light of a street lamp I could see Jake disappear around the side of the Whitaker house. A few minutes later he came around the other side, then went back toward his own house. Since I was up, I made myself a cup of tea. The rain was just stopping as I got back into bed."

Millie leaned over to the sergeant. "It had to be Jake. Shamus barks when anyone comes near, even the Whitakers. I would have heard if Shamus had started up again."

The sergeant went from Millie's to the crime scene. As expected, the Rottweiler let out a chorus of barks. Jimmy, the Whitakers' nephew, quieted Shamus, then invited the officer in to inspect the damage in the rear living area.

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Whodunit: The Pretender's Ball

The following is a Whodunit by Hy ConradThese mysteries are from The Little Giant® Book of Whodunits by Hy Conrad and Matt LaFleur. Can you solve the mystery before you read the solution?

(Image credit: Flickr user Thaddäus Zoltkowski)

The secret police warned the prime minister to cancel the Pretenders' Ball. But the costume ball was a 200-year-old tradition in the small Grand Duchy. Despite threats from the rebels, the annual celebration had to take place as scheduled.

The prime minister made a handful of concessions to security. The peg-legged pirate had his sword confiscated, and the Turkish sultan gave up his curved, bulky dagger. But the baseball player was allowed to keep his bat, and the chukka sticks were not taken from the masked Ninja. No one was expecting an attack by a blunt instrument.

But that's exactly what happened. On one of the palace's two dozen balconies, the 80-year-old grand duke was cornered by an assassin and bludgeoned to death. When the chief of police discovered the body, the old duke, dressed as a peasant, was draped over a ledge, his royal blood dripping into the dark chasm below.

"Quick," the chief said to the nearest costumed reveler. "Close the doors. Alert the guards."
The pirate, in reality a provincial mayor, immediately ran to obey, taking the steps two at a time down to the main ballroom.

"We have to find the murder weapon," the chief's assistant said a few minutes later as he lined up all the shocked and grief-stricken guests.

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Whodunit: The Last Poker Hand

The following is a Whodunit by Hy ConradThese mysteries are from The Little Giant® Book of Whodunits by Hy Conrad and Matt LaFleur. Can you solve the mystery before you read the solution?

(Image credit: Flickr user Steve Garfield)

A homicide sergeant stood in the hotel suite, gazing down at the body of Bugsy Ferret. "He was a card sharp," the sergeant told the hotel manager. "Bugsy preyed on tourists. He'd lure them to a hotel, start a friendly poker game, and take them to the cleaners. I guess someone came back this time and took Bugsy."

Bugsy lay sprawled amid a carpet of scattered playing cards and a bottle of Blush gin. He'd been stabbed in the chest.

"Looks like he didn't die right away," said the sergeant as he pointed to the five cards held in the victim's stiff grip. All diamonds. "Maybe he was trying to tell us something."

"We got our suspects," came a voice from the bedroom. The sergeant's partner emerged, holding a handwritten list. "Benny King, Jack Lawrence, Joe Blush, Alan Spade. He listed their hotels, too. Let's check 'em out."

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Whodunit: The Vandalizing Visitor

The following is a Whodunit by Hy ConradThese mysteries are from The Little Giant® Book of Whodunits by Hy Conrad and Matt LaFleur. Can you solve the mystery before you read the solution?

(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.

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Whodunit: The Piney Bluffers

The following is a Whodunit by Hy ConradThese mysteries are from The Little Giant® Book of Whodunits by Hy Conrad and Matt LaFleur. Can you solve the mystery before you read the solution?

(Image credit: Flickr user slworking2

"I was just pulling into the Piney Bluffs gas station," the shaken witness told the operator. "I heard a gunshot. And then I saw the men—two of them—running out of the station and hopping into a recreation vehicle. They'd killed the attendant." She gave a description of the R.V and a general description of the men.

The R.V was found, abandoned south of one of the roadblocks the highway patrol had set up. The vehicle was just feet away from Piney Bluffs State Park, which was enjoying its first rain in weeks. It was assumed that the men had hiked away into the hundreds of acres of parkland. Officers were sent in to interview the campers.

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Whodunit: Postgraduate Murder

The following is a Whodunit by Hy ConradThese mysteries are from The Little Giant® Book of Whodunits by Hy Conrad and Matt LaFleur. Can you solve the mystery before you read the solution?

(Image credit: Flickr user sciencesque)

The time of death was firmly established. At 10:06 P.M. all three suspects said they heard a gunshot echo through the house. The house was shared by four graduate students; three, if you no longer counted Harry Harris, the victim who lay in his second-story bedroom, a bullet in his chest.

Harry, it seemed, had been a ladies' man. He had even bragged about seducing the girlfriend of one of his housemates. Unfortunately, the police didn't know which one. They separated the three remaining housemates and interviewed each one.

"I was working on my car," Bill Mayer insisted. "I plugged an extension cord into an outlet behind the house. Then I took a work light around to the side driveway, in front of the garage. When I heard the gunshot, it took me a second to realize it came from the house. Then I ran inside."

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Whodunit: The Stolen Cleopatra

The following is a Whodunit by Hy ConradThese mysteries are from The Little Giant® Book of Whodunits by Hy Conrad and Matt LaFleur. Can you solve the mystery before you read the solution?


The silent alarm announced a break-in at the home of Jordan Marsh, the famous collector. When a patrolman arrived, he found two men waiting for him in the backyard of Marsh's suburban home, standing by a broken window.

"My name's Digby Dunne," the first man said. "Jordan's next-door neighbor. I caught this man red-handed, breaking in and stealing the Cleopatra coin."

"I caught him red-handed," the other man countered. "I'm Kenny Johnson, Jordan's other neighbor."

"One at a time," the patrolman said. "Mr. Dunne?"

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Whodunit: The Dirty Cop

The following is a Whodunit by Hy ConradThese mysteries are from The Little Giant® Book of Whodunits by Hy Conrad and Matt LaFleur. Can you solve the mystery before you read the solution?


For six months, a dirty cop had been leaking information to the mob, and Officer Bill Brady of Internal Affairs was going to catch him tonight. According to Brady's sources, Carmine Catrone, a mob boss, was scheduled to meet the dirty cop in Hannibal's, an out-of-the-way tavern.

Brady arrived at Hannibal's wearing a wig and false mustache. A familiar face was already on the premises—Marjorie Pepper, a desk sergeant from the Fourth Precinct. Brady watched as Marjorie ordered a drink, then lifted her left arm and checked her watch. Was she waiting for someone?

Seconds later, another familiar face entered, this time from the direction of the rest rooms. It was Adam Paprika of the Special Vice unit. As Adam used his right hand to zip up his trousers, Brady noticed the diamond pinkie ring. It reminded him of Carmine Catrone's pinkie ring.

Then came a third familiar face. Rookie patrolman Charlie Salt walked in and ambled over to an empty table. Charlie opened his briefcase and began writing down notes. When the young officer lifted his left hand to call over the waitress, Brady saw the glint of a gold fountain pen. Very expensive.

Brady had never counted on more than one officer showing up. What if they recognized each other? What if they recognized him?

As the bar grew crowded, Brady kept an eye on his subjects. All three were smoking. And all three occasionally got up to use the phone or buy cigarettes or use the rest rooms.

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Whodunit: Looking for a Lookout

The following is a Whodunit by Hy ConradThese mysteries are from The Little Giant® Book of Whodunits by Hy Conrad and Matt LaFleur. Can you solve the mystery before you read the solution?

On a January night, one of the coldest of the new year, a foot patrolman was making his rounds of the downtown storefronts when a hissing cat ran past him into a nearby alley. Officer Greeley glanced after it, and the beam of a roaming flashlight caught his eye. It was coming from inside the alley window of Collins' Jewelry.

Greeley called for backup and a patrol car quickly arrived. With their guns drawn, the three officers covered the front and back exits. But it was already too late. The burglars were gone. A half-full display case made it obvious that the thieves had been alerted to the police presence.

"They must have had a lookout," Greeley said. Seconds later, his deduction was confirmed. A walkie-talkie lay on the jewelry store floor, right where the burglars had dropped it. "Quick," Greeley said. "I saw three guys loitering around. One of them has to be the lookout. If we hurry..."

The officers did hurry They spread out over a ten-block radius of the deserted downtown and brought in three loiterers. Greeley remembered each one.

"I was waiting for a bus," the man with the white cane and dark glasses told them. 'Tm blind. I work as an accountant next door to Collins' Jewelry. Tonight I stayed late working on taxes. I heard the usual street noise, but I obviously didn't see a thing."

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Whodunit: The Queen Glendora Photos

The following is a Whodunit by Hy ConradThese mysteries are from The Little Giant® Book of Whodunits by Hy Conrad and Matt LaFleur. Can you solve the mystery before you read the solution?

(Image credit: Nino Barbieri)

"Your regular two o'clock appointment is here," came the secretary's voice over the intercom.

Alicia Bonwit looked up from her cluttered desk. "What? Is it Wednesday already? I don't have time." Then she got a glimpse of her frazzled hair in the mirror. "Well, perhaps I'll make time. Send them in."

The team trooped into the editor's office— Fernando, a blond, clean-shaven hair stylist; Dodo, a tall, red-headed manicurist; and Mr. Mark, a distinguished, gray-bearded dress designer. Alicia pushed aside the stacks of work. "What a day!" she exclaimed with a sigh and delivered herself into their care.

"I've been so busy, I haven't even looked at the Queen Glendora photos." Alicia pointed to an unopened, padded envelope sitting among the editorial debris. "The paparazzi have been working overtime trying to catch a shot of the Albanian queen and her secret lover. Other magazines would pay a fortune for such pictures, but I got 'em. And I haven't had a free second to open the envelope. Oh, well, first things first. What are we going to do with my hair?"

For the next hour, the editor-in-chief of the fashionable tabloid Scoop Weekly allowed herself to be pampered. She gossiped, looked at fabric samples, and watched as her hair and nails were returned to their usual luster. It was only after the entourage had left that she noticed the missing envelope. "The Glendora photos," Alicia shrieked and immediately rang Security.

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What Is It? game 336

It's Thursday, so you know what it means, Neatoramanauts: it's time for the What Is It? Game, brought to you by the wonderful What Is It? Blog.

What is this thing in the picture? Your guess can win you a free T-shirt of your choice from the NeatoShop! Here's how to play:

Place your guess in the comment section below. One guess per comment, but you can enter as many guesses as you'd like in separate comments. Post no URLs or weblinks.

You might know what it is, but if you want to win a t-shirt, you'll have to use your imagination, because we are going to select two winners who give us the funniest incorrect guesses. If you guess right, then good for ya - but you don't win anything, okay? So, it's up to you, creative people: you have twice the chance of winning that T-shirt.

Please write your T-shirt selection alongside your guess. If you don't include a selection, you forfeit the prize. We highly suggest you take a look at the NeatoShop's new selection of Funny T-shirts and Science T-Shirts.

Ready? Go for it! (Don't forget to visit the What Is It? Blog for more clues!)

Update: This is a J.C. Cox Coin Till, the main selling point for it was that it was supposed to stop mistakes and disputes about which coin was given in payment since coins from the last four transactions could be seen through the glass on the right side. The coins were dropped into a slot at the top and progressed down to the next level by means of a brass lever which moved from side to side. Finally the coins were retained in a locked box at the base. The shelves on the left were for counted stacked coins and the bowl was for miscellaneous coins.

My favorite coins are miscellaneous coins! That’s all very interesting, but your outlandish ideas were priceless! Berhard said:

An incubator for butterfly eggs and chrysalis... On the shelf you may store the chrysalis, while the butterflies may hatch inside the glass cabinet. The glass cabinet may protect the butterflies from being disturbed or eaten by birds or laboratoy cats...

In the bowel on the left buterfly food may be stored to be able to feed the newly hatched butterflies with honey or nectar.

And Chris Date had a great idea, too.

This is cat liquor cabinet. Back before the pet prohibition amendment, you could drink alongside your pets. Small bottles of rum and scotch as well as mixers could be stored on the shelves with the "top shelf" stuff locked up in the right. The built in mixing/drinking bowl was an optional accessory to these cabinets.

So both win a T-shirt from the NeatoShop! Great going, guys! Thanks to everyone who played this week, and thanks to the What Is It blog.


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Whodunit: Long-Distance Murder

The following is a Whodunit by Hy ConradThese mysteries are from The Little Giant® Book of Whodunits by Hy Conrad and Matt LaFleur. Can you solve the mystery before you read the solution?

(Image credit: Griffoooo94)

Nurse Abbott had just received her regular 10 P.M. call from Melba, the daughter-in-law of her patient, multimillionaire John Cord. As usual, Nurse Abbott put the irritating woman on the speakerphone as she tried to straighten up the kitchen. "Yes, I gave him his 9:30 medication," Nurse Abbott sighed. "Yes, he's in the study, having his tea. Is there anything else?" These conversations could go on for hours.

"Jimmy!" the nurse heard Melba shout to her husband. The annoying voice bellowed through the speakerphone. "Pick up the extension. Didn't you have a question for Nurse Abbott?"

The nurse sighed again. "Hello, Mr. Cord." She answered a few more useless questions from John Cord's son, then tactfully found a way to hang up.

Nurse Abbott finished her chore and then returned to the study. That's when she found the body of John Cord lying crumpled on the Oriental carpet. A breeze from the open French doors played through a scarf that was wrapped tightly around his neck.

The police combed the crime scene and found no clue to the killer's identity.

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What Is It? game 335

W00t! It's time for another contest collaboration with the excellent What Is It? blog. Can you guess what this odd item is? This week, we are looking for funny and clever answers, not the correct one, but if you guess correctly, you'll win our undying respect. If you have one of the two funniest answers, you'll win a T-Shirt from the NeatoShop!

Place your guess in the comment section. One guess per comment, though you can enter as many guesses as you'd like. You have until the answer is revealed on the What Is It? Blog tomorrow.

Please write your prize selection alongside your guess, so visit the NeatoShop and take a look around. If you don't write your prize selection, then you don't get the prize. I think you'll like the selection of funny t-shirts and science t-shirts -or even t-shirts of your favorite blogs and websites.

There are other mystery items, too, at the What Is It? blog. Good luck!

Update: This is a pineapple eye snip, for removing the eyes when peeling them, patent number 681,339. What’s a pineapple eye? You can see them in this article about a different eye-removing tool.

Patrick Scott 1 had a funny answer: “Mom's tongue forceps, for washing your mouth out with soap, you foul mouthed kid!” Sounds like a good idea to me -and good for a T-shirt from the NeatoShop. So is the comment from tchitchou, “This is the device Edward scissorhands used to go to the bathroom. Everybody understand why. Brrrrrrrr.” Congratulations to both! We’ll do it again next week. See the answers to the other mystery items at the What Is It? blog.


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Whodunit: The Coach's Last Play

The following is a Whodunit by Hy ConradThese mysteries are from The Little Giant® Book of Whodunits by Hy Conrad and Matt LaFleur. Can you solve the mystery before you read the solution?


Juliet Bricker watched as her husband dawdled over his Saturday morning breakfast. "What's wrong, dear?"

Coach Bricker could never hide anything from Juliet. "It's one of my star players. I found out the boy's involved with gamblers. Maybe he's not trying to throw games, but it's still enough to get him suspended and ruin his chances with the pros."

Juliet was sympathetic. College football was his whole life, and for the first time in years, Halberton State had a great team. "What are you going to do?"

"We're meeting at the field before practice. I have to hear his side of it."

Bricker kissed his wife good-bye, picked up his latest paperback novel, and headed for the door. Bricker was always reading—a holdover from his days as an English professor.

The team coordinator showed up half an hour before practice and found the coach lying in the middle of the field, his head bashed in.

"He didn't die instantly," the police chief said as he examined the scene. A ten-foot-long blood trail showed that Bricker had been crawling toward the field house. "What's this in his hand?" The chief peered in the clenched fist and saw the last page of Coach Bricker's paperback. The rest of the book lay back at the scene of the attack.

The Halberton team had three star players and these three became immediate suspects.

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What Is It? game 334

It's Thursday, so you know what it means, Neatoramanauts: it's time for the What Is It? Game, brought to you by the wonderful What Is It? Blog.

What is this thing in the picture? Your guess can win you a free T-shirt of your choice from the NeatoShop! Here's how to play:

Place your guess in the comment section below. One guess per comment, but you can enter as many guesses as you'd like in separate comments. Post no URLs or weblinks.

You might know what they are, but if you want to win a t-shirt, you'll have to use your imagination, because we are going to select two winners who give us the funniest incorrect guesses. If you guess right, you may get a pat on the back, but you don't win anything, see? So get creative!

Please write your T-shirt selection alongside your guess. If you don't include a selection, you forfeit the prize. We suggest you take a look at the NeatoShop's selection of Funny T-shirts and Science T-Shirts. Or maybe a Sci-Fi Shirt! Or a Pun Shirt!

Visit the What Is It? Blog for for an additional picture of this thing. Then enter!

Update: This is a replica Confederate torpedo for guarding their harbors from Union ships, they "were constructed from available wooden barrels, then filled with gun powder and fitted with a contact detonator. Streamlined ends were added to lessen the effects of tides and currents. The Union Navy lost more than 40 ships to these torpedoes." The actual size of these mines was three to four feet long. A lot of your guesses were right, or dangerously close to right, but we were looking for funny but wrong answers. One of the funniest came from moddycurl: “This is the actual dressmaker's form used to make several of Madonna's costumes.” That’s worth a T-shirt from the NeatoShop! Bo Culjan had a great one, too: “It's the collar attachment for the "Dogs of War" model St. Bernard.” That one deserves a T-shirt, too! Congratulations! Thanks to everyone who played this week. You’ll find the answers to all this week’s mystery items at The What Is It? blog.


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Whodunit: High-Rise Homicide

The following is a Whodunit by Hy ConradThese mysteries are from The Little Giant® Book of Whodunits by Hy Conrad and Matt LaFleur. Can you solve the mystery before you read the solution?

(Image credit: Flickr user John Wheeler)

Helen Blain said good afternoon to Morty the doorman as she walked into the lobby and took the elevator up to her fifth-floor apartment. The time was 3:55.

At 4 p.m. sharp Morty's telephone rang. "Help," a man's voice gurgled. "Stabbed. 503." Then the weak voice fell silent. Apartment 503. That was Xavier Kuralt, the Lithuanian businessman.

Morty dialed 911, then hung up and waited. Seconds later, the tenant from 505 entered the building. "What's the matter?" Alex Torful asked the visibly shaken doorman. Before Morty could answer, a siren's wail announced the approach of a squad car.

The police found the body of Xavier Kuralt on his white living-room rug, the handle of a knife protruding from his chest. 'A stab wound," the senior officer said as he stepped around the single, isolated pool of blood, the only stain to mar the pristine carpet. "It must have cut an artery. I'll bet some blood got on the killer, too."

The junior officer moved in for a closer look and nearly tripped over a long telephone cord. The receiver was still in the dead man's hand while the phone itself sat on a desk 15 feet away. The doorman was the first name listed on the telephone's speed dial. "After the assailant left, the dying man must have staggered to the phone and pressed #1," the junior officer said.

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What Is It? game 333

Now it's time for our collaboration with the amazing What Is It? Blog! What is this object in the picture? You don't have to know to win a t-shirt from the NeatoShop!

Place your guess in the comment section below. One guess per comment, please, though you can enter as many as you'd like. You might know the true answer, but we're going to select two winners who come up with the funniest, most outlandish guesses to win a T-shirt from the NeatoShop. However...

Please write your T-shirt selection alongside your guess. If you don't include a selection, you forfeit the prize, okay? May we suggest the Science T-Shirt, Funny T-Shirt and Artist-Designed T-Shirts?

Check out another picture of the other side of this item at the What Is It? Blog. The let your imagination run wild! Good luck!

Update: This is a jar opener. We think the upper jaw should be flipped over so that the teeth are angled the same as the lower jaw. We saw some really funny but wrong answers proposed instead, the funniest being about our clothing. Laurinda had a good one:

This object is obviously a corset tightener. The aperture was opened, the teeth set against the corset's edges, then tightened with the included spanner (not pictured). A very handy device for getting ladies dressed into last year's fashions!

Chris Stevens came up with this one:

Ever crammed yourself into a pair of skinny jeans that were just a little *too* skinny? And, had the middle of the zipper bust open, but the top and bottom stay connected? This helpful tool is placed on the outside edges of the gaping zipper teeth and tightened up to bring your fastener back into fastenation! It's called "The Ripped Zipper Gripper ™".

Both are worth a T-shirt from the NeatoShop! Congratulations to our winners, and thanks to everyone who participated this week. See the answers to th either mystery items of the week at the What Is It? blog.


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Whodunit: The Party's Over

Neatorama is proud to present a new series of Whodunits from Hy Conrad. The new mysteries are from The Little Giant® Book of Whodunits by Hy Conrad and Matt LaFleur. Can you solve the mystery before you read the solution?

(Image credit: Flickr user Xipe Totec39)

Tony had promised to help clean up after the party and Tony was a man of his word. Still nursing a hangover, Tony dragged himself over to Fernando's house. The two men had coffee, then walked into the fenced-in yard, scene of last night's birthday revels.

The lawn was strewn with blown-up balloons and bottles and streamers, but after an hour of work, they managed to get it cleaned up.

"Darn," Fernando said, pointing up to a tree by the edge of the eight-foot-high wooden fence. A balloon was stuck in a top branch. "I'd wait for a breeze to blow it off, but there hasn't been a breeze in days."

Fernando climbed the tree. He was just a few inches from knocking free the balloon when he glanced into a window of Gil Dover's house next door. "Looks like a robbery," he yelled down. "Broken window. A big mess. Tony, my phone's not working. Go to the corner and call 911. I'll meet you by Gil's rear gate."

When the police arrived, Tony and Fernando were waiting outside the splintered gate to Gil Dover's backyard. "That's how we found it," Fernando explained. "We didn't go in." Upon entering, the police found what Fernando had said: a broken window, a big mess in the den— plus ten missing rare coins worth $100,000.

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What Is It? game 332

Hey look! It's time for our collaboration with the wonderful What Is It? Blog! Do you know what the terrifying object in this picture is? It doesn't really matter if you do, because we are looking for the funniest guesses. You can win a t-shirt from the NeatoShop! But first, read the rules:

Place your guess in the comment section below. One guess per comment, please, though you can enter as many as you'd like. Two winners who submit funny and/or clever (albeit ultimately wrong) answers will each win a T-shirt from the NeatoShop.

If you guess the correct answer, you'll get a big pat on the back.

Please write your T-shirt selection alongside your guess. If you don't include a selection, you forfeit the prize, okay? May we suggest the Science T-Shirt, Funny T-Shirt and Artist-Designed T-Shirts?

There are a few more scary pictures of this thing at the What Is It? Blog. Yeah, it opens up (shiver). Good luck!

Update: This device is probably for cooking meat in a fireplace. That makes sense. We prefer answers that don’t make much sense, but do make us laugh. Jes Rickard Smith had a good one: “I believe it is a "Morning Wood Preventer" For those awkward sleepovers at nana's house.” That’s good for a t-shirt from the NeatoShop! Another t-shirt goes to David Addams, who said this was “ a prototype for the Krell "Brain Boost" machine from Forbidden Planet. If using the first side didn't work, you had to use the second.” I found a picture of it in use:



Aren't you glad I didn't look for a picture of the first answer? Congratulations to our winners! You can see the answers to all the mystery items of the week at the What Is It? blog.


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Whodunit: The Smuggler and the Clever Wife

Neatorama is proud to present a new series of Whodunits from Hy Conrad. The new mysteries are from The Little Giant® Book of Whodunits by Hy Conrad and Matt LaFleur. Can you solve the mystery before you read the solution?

 A Mexican border guard was talking to his wife over his cellular phone when he accidentally pulled in a fragment of a static-filled conversation between a man and a woman. "I'll be waiting in Tecate at noon for your regular Monday shipment," said the man. "You don't think the border guards are getting wise?"

"No," the woman laughed. "We can keep this operation going forever." And then, just as suddenly as they'd come, the voices disappeared.

For a full month, customs officials kept track of the traffic at the relatively quiet border crossing. Only three women made a regular habit of crossing into Mexico each Monday morning.
The first woman, impeccably dressed, drove a black Mercedes. The second, a girl barely out of her teens, always crossed on an old red bicycle.

The third drove a small van. "MexiCoast Spa" was on the side in fancy letters. Of the three, she was the only one declaring merchandise, a weekly supply of U.S.-made health foods and vitamins on which she paid a hefty tariff.

On the fifth Monday, they detained all three women. Methodically they searched, tearing every panel from the dark blue Mercedes, even checking inside the tire tubes. They did the same with the bicycle. Searching the van took the most time. Luckily, this week's shipment of health food was smaller than usual. The officers took samples from every box and bottle.

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What Is It? game 331

It's Thursday, so you know what it means, Neatoramanauts: it's time for the What Is It? Game, brought to you by the always amusing What Is It? Blog. What is the object in the picture above? Your guess can win you a free T-shirt of your choice from the NeatoShop. Here's how to play:

Place your guess in the comment section below. One guess per comment, but you can enter as many guesses as you'd like in separate comments. Post no URLs or weblinks.

You might know the correct answer, but if you want to win a t-shirt, you'll have to use your imagination, because we are going to select two winners who give us the funniest incorrect guesses. If you guess right, then good for ya - but you don't win anything, see? So, it's up to you, funny people: you have twice the chance of winning that T-shirt now.

Please write your T-shirt selection alongside your guess. If you don't include a selection, you forfeit the prize. We highly suggest you take a look at the NeatoShop's new selection of Funny T-shirts and Science T-Shirts.

Ready? Go for it! (Don't forget to visit the What Is It? Blog for another picture of this thing!)

Update: This tool is a fork that was intended for use in grocery stores for handling all different types of food, patent number 2,430,242. Your answers were funnier, like the one Daryl H came up with: A tool for extracting the truth from political rhetoric. If only there were such a thing! And wordymom had a great idea: This is a Puritan courting fork from colonial New England. Using it, the happy couple could enjoy a meal together, while propriety was ensured by the sturdy central barrier. Congratulations, Daryl H and wordy mom will receive t-shirts from the NeatoShop! See the answers to all this week’s mystery items at the What is It? blog.


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Whodunit: Death of a Deceiver

Neatorama is proud to present a new series of Whodunits from Hy Conrad. The new mysteries are from The Little Giant® Book of Whodunits by Hy Conrad and Matt LaFleur. Can you solve the mystery before you read the solution?

(Image credit: Flickr user aaron gilson)

Mona Fisher turned and gazed at Jerry, sleeping next to her on the plane. Her eyes wandered down to his wedding band. She still couldn't believe she was married to such a catch.

Their flight from Acapulco landed late that night. The next morning, February 10, Jerry Fisher shoveled the snow from the driveway, kissed Mona good-bye, and headed off to work.

At seven that evening, a cleaning woman entered the law offices of Fisher & Dyce and discovered the body of Jerry Fisher. He had been stabbed to death, a sharp letter opener still sticking out of his chest.

Lieutenant Miller's first unpleasant duty was to interview the young lawyer's widow. Mona was distraught. "We were only married four months. I never met a man more romantic and honest. Why would anyone want to kill him?"

Jerry's law partner, Kyle Dyce, echoed her sentiments. "Jerry was a man I trusted completely, and a darn good lawyer. He was still working when I left. About 6 p.m. I walked across to the health club. I didn't work out, just used the tanning bed. I suppose I was jealous of Jerry's great Mexico tan."

The lieutenant spent the next hour going through Jerry's papers and discovered that the trusted Jerry Fisher had been skimming money from the law partnership. He also found the phone number of a woman—Gail Lowenski.

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What Is It? game 330

It's once again time for our collaboration with the wonderfully entertaining What Is It? Blog. Do you know what the pictured item is? Can you make up something wonderfully wacky? That's what we're looking for: the funniest and most creative guesses. We will award t-shirts from the NeatoShop to two commenters who post the cleverest, funniest, or most outlandish uses for this thing!

Place your guess in the comment section below. One guess per comment, please, though you can enter as many guesses as you'd like in separate comments. You have until Friday evening to come up with great guesses.

Please write your T-shirt selection alongside your guess. If you don't include a selection, you forfeit the prize, see? May we suggest the Science T-Shirt, Funny T-Shirt and Artist-Designed T-Shirts?

Now, you don't have to know the answer to win! Go see many more pictures of this thing at the What Is It? Blog. Good luck!

Update: this item is probably a tear gas pen gun, a lot of similar devices can be seen here. You all had some pretty good answers, too! Berhard came up with a good one: The Doctor's new "Ballistic Screwdriver”! That’s certainly good for a T-shirt from the NeatoShop. Patrick Scott also had a great answer: Pop-up timer for T-Rex roasting! Unfortunately, he did not select a t-shirt. Thanks to everyone who played along this week! See the answers to all this week’s mystery items at the What is It? blog.


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Whodunit: The Suicidal House Guest

Neatorama is proud to present a new series of Whodunits from Hy Conrad. The new mysteries are from The Little Giant® Book of Whodunits by Hy Conrad and Matt LaFleur. Can you solve the mystery before you read the solution?

Doctor Paul Yancy tiptoed out of the sickroom, closing the door behind him. "Uncle Ben needs peace and quiet," he told his brother and sister-in-law. "The flu has left him weak and depressed. But the old man should make a full recovery."

"Thank goodness," replied Fritz with as much sincerity as he could muster. Uncle Ben had been staying with them ever since he got sick two weeks earlier. Every day Fritz had to remind himself of the 30 million good reasons why he and Caroline had to be hospitable to the cantankerous old man.

"Call me if he gets worse," Paul said as he left the house.

"Why can't Paul take Uncle Ben in?" Caroline whined, not for the first time.

"Very simple," Fritz explained again. "The nicer we are to the old buzzard, the more he'll leave us in his will."

A minute later, they heard the television go on in their uncle's ground-floor room. 'At least when he's watching TV, he's not making demands," Caroline sighed.

They listened as Uncle Ben channel-surfed for a few minutes, then switched off the set. An hour later, Caroline brought in his lunch on a tray. That's when they found Uncle Ben dead, a half-empty glass of water on his nightstand along with a completely empty bottle of liquid sleeping drops.

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What Is It? game 329

Hey look! It's time to play a game, from Neatorama and the wonderful What Is It? Blog! Do you know what the object in this picture is? It doesn't really matter if you do, because we are looking for the funniest guesses. You can win a t-shirt from the NeatoShop! But first, read the rules:

Place your guess in the comment section below. One guess per comment, please, though you can enter as many as you'd like. Two winners who submit funny and/or clever (albeit ultimately wrong) answers will each win a T-shirt from the NeatoShop.

If you guess the correct answer, you'll get a big pat on the back.

Please write your T-shirt selection alongside your guess. If you don't include a selection, you forfeit the prize, okay? May we suggest the Science T-Shirt, Funny T-Shirt and Artist-Designed T-Shirts?

Check out more pictures of this thing, and other mystery items, too, at the What Is It? Blog. Good luck!

Update: This item is a sonometer for acoustic lab experiments. Your answers were much more interesting! ColShorts said it is, “Rehab For Springs. Know a spring that's in a downward spiral ? That can't curb their twisting and turning, debauched behavior ? A short time in this unit will put your beloved spring back on the straight and narrow.” That’s good for a t-shirt from the NeatoShop! Barking_Bud wins a t-shirt for this answer, “It's an original Brushy One String DELUXE! (watch the video!!)” Including the video was a clever touch, so I added it below. See the answers to all the mystery items of the week at the What Is It? blog.


(YouTube link)


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Whodunit: Friends at the Office

Neatorama is proud to present a new series of Whodunits from Hy Conrad. The new mysteries are from The Little Giant® Book of Whodunits by Hy Conrad and Matt LaFleur. Can you solve the mystery before you read the solution?

(Image credit: Flickr user Carin Rhoden)

Homicide Detective Gilson was visiting his accountant in a small, seedy office building when he heard noises coming from above. First there were angry voices. Then came a scream, followed by a heavy thud.

Gilson excused himself and raced up the stairs. On the next floor, he found an open door. Wiley Kline, a low-rent lawyer, lay on the floor of his office, a switchblade knife sticking out of his chest. Gilson called in the murder and immediately found himself assigned to the case.

When his partner arrived, the detectives examined the office. Not far from the victim's hand was a half-smoked cigarette. On the floor beside it were a turned-over wastebasket, a cheap lighter, and a blank notepad. On the desk they noticed a telephone, a pen, a shot glass smelling of bourbon, and an ashtray filled with cigarette butts and burned matches.

"It's funny how none of his neighbors poked their heads out," Gilson observed. "Let's go talk to them."
The floor contained three other offices. The first door they knocked on produced Helen Hurly, a massage therapist. She told them she was relaxing between appointments. "I didn't hear a thing," she claimed, pointing to the stereo headphones she'd just removed. "You say Wiley was murdered? I'm not surprised. He must have cheated everyone he'd ever met."

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What Is It? game 328

Now it's time for our collaboration with the awesome What Is It? Blog! What is this thing? You don't have to know to win!

Place your guess in the comment section below. One guess per comment, please, though you can enter as many as you'd like. You might know the true answer, but we're going to select two winners who come up with the funniest, most outlandish guesses to win a T-shirt from the NeatoShop. However...

Please write your T-shirt selection alongside your guess. If you don't include a selection, you forfeit the prize, okay? May we suggest the Science T-Shirt, Funny T-Shirt and Artist-Designed T-Shirts?

Check out another picture of this thing at the What Is It? Blog. The let your imagination run wild! Good luck!

Update: This tool is a seed stripper for harvesting grass seed, according to the What Is It? blog. Y’all came up with much better answers, even if they aren’t right. One of the best came from xenu34, who said it was “a food trough for goats that are on a diet. When they get too fat, their stomachs get poked by the sharp spikes and discourage over-eating.” Great answer, but xenu34 did not select as shirt as a prize. The other funniest answer was from Jaguarfeather, who declared it “A fine folk art example of an Italian spaghetti harvester. Just run the serrated scoop through the spaghetti trees to remove the ripe pasta.” That reminds me of one of our favorite April Fool pranks. And it wins Jaguarfeather a t-shirt from the NeatoShop! Thanks to everyone who entered, and thanks to the What Is It? blog


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