Whodunit: Airport Insecurity

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 Omar Robert Hamilton)

Phil Moretti hated it when tourists got murdered. It reflected badly on New York City, on Kennedy Airport, and especially on him, chief of airport security. Somehow it didn't seem as bad when the victim was local.

In this case it was a businessman on a flight from Chicago. He had barely gotten off the plane. At 3:42 p.m., a passerby found him stabbed to death in the men's room just a few feet from his arrival gate. The body had been robbed. No jewelry. And although the wallet and credit cards had been left behind, there was no cash.

Three suspicious characters had been seen loitering by the gates. Barely 15 minutes passed from the time of the body's discovery before all three were brought in for questioning.

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Whodunit: A Real False Alarm

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 David, Bergin, Emmett and Elliott)

"The car alarm often goes off in hot, humid weather," Elliot Zypher told the inspector from the burglary division. "When it went off last night, I had no idea the car was actually being robbed. This has always been such a safe area."

The detective looked around at the large houses and well-tended lawns and had to agree. "Do you usually leave expensive necklaces out in the car?"

"That was my fault, inspector," answered Elliot's sister, Zelda. "I had just brought the necklace back from the jeweler. We were halfway through dinner when I remembered where it was. Neither Elliot nor I had the energy to go get it. I went right from dinner up to my room. With the windows closed and the air conditioning on, I could barely hear the horn start blaring. I assumed it was the usual false alarm."

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Whodunit: The Pre-Valentines Day 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 Sean)

It was the day before Valentine's Day and the police in the small college town were unprepared for any crime beyond the amorous escapades of a few undergraduates.

Late that afternoon a patrol car canvassed Oakview, a small off-campus apartment building. The officers found the body of Gilly Tarpin, a homeless drifter. He was a nondescript man of normal build, lying in the shelter of an open garage bay. The officers made an inventory of Gilly's possessions: a wristwatch (looking new, except for a vertical crease on the leather band inside the clasp), a box of chocolates (with half the contents eaten), and a crumpled pre-printed note saying "Be My Valentine."

The authorities assumed it was a natural death, caused by exposure to the February chill. But then the mandatory autopsy came back. There was poison in the homeless man's system. An identical poison was found in the remaining candies.

The police interviewed three Oakview residents, hoping for some clue as to why anyone would poison a homeless drifter.

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Whodunit: The Vanishing Love Token

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 Valentine's Day party was a tradition. Each year Henry and Bitsy Vandercleef invited their friends into their Park Avenue home. After a sumptuous dinner, the couples retired to the drawing room. The men drank port, the women drank champagne, and each couple exchanged love tokens.

This year George Epson outdid himself, presenting his wife with a ruby necklace. The women sighed enviously while the men mentally added up the cost and wondered how their wives would react to their own less extravagant gifts.

When Henry's turn came, he told Bitsy to close her eyes and led her over to the windows. When Bitsy opened her eyes, she saw the billboard and gasped. "To Bitsy, the most beautiful woman in my world. Love, Henry."

"You don't know how much trouble it was getting a billboard put up on Park Avenue," Henry said. The women sighed again while the men mentally added and wondered.

George Epson was the first to notice the missing necklace. "Stolen," he gasped, holding up the empty jewel box. "Nobody leave the room."

Everyone assured everyone else that there couldn't possibly be a thief among them. Not them. The necklace must have fallen out or been mislaid.

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Whodunit: Super Bowl Madness

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 Jaroslaw Kulik)

Vince McCormick was a big, angry slug of a man just a month shy of retirement. On Super Bowl Sunday, his two sons, Vince Junior and Sonny, came over as usual to watch the game.

As kick-off time approached, the boys were in the kitchen, helping their mother prepare the snacks. Junior heated up nachos in the microwave while Sonny poured the bags of potato chips and pretzels into bowls. Marie McCormick was mixing the ice and ginger ale and rye together in tall glasses.

"Make sure mine is strong enough," came her husband's growl from the living room.

Junior saw the bruise on his mother's arm. "Did he do that to you?" he asked. Marie didn't answer.

"What'll you do when he retires and hangs around all day?" Sonny asked. "It'll only get worse."

"No one in our family gets divorced," Marie said firmly.

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Whodunit: Strangulation Station

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?


Colonel Rollo's tour of the provinces was a necessary evil and the military dictator took every precaution to ensure his own safety. There had already been two assassination attempts this year, and he didn't want to try for three.

When the colonel's train pulled into the Gorganzuela station, the town officials were waiting to greet him. But the door to his windowless, bullet-proof carriage remained shut. Nervously, the mayor knocked. He heard some stumbling sounds from inside and finally the train door slid open.

Captain Corkran stumbled out. The dictator's second in command was usually a resplendent sight in his broad hat, bandana, and American cowboy boots. Now he looked weak and silly. 'Assassination," he coughed.

The mayor looked in and saw the lifeless body of Colonel Rollo dressed in his robe and slippers. A purple ring around his lifeless neck testified to murder by strangulation, probably with a long, strong, thin cord.

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Whodunit: A Winter's Tale

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 Simon Laroche)

In the dead of winter, the citizens of Mountebank, Minnesota, grabbed at any excuse for a party, especially when it was hosted by Ama Wheeler, the richest woman in town. As usual, this one was rowdy and crowded and a huge success—until about 12:30 A.M. That's when Ama noticed that her prized Ming vase was missing from the entry-hall table.

When the police arrived, they found all the revelers herded into the living room, with Ama standing guard like an angry sheepdog. The house was searched. Then the house perimeter. Then the guests' cars. No vase.

"You're going to have to take their statements," Ama told the police chief. "I don't suppose it will do much good. At a party like this, people can barely remember their own movements, much less keep track of others'."

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Whodunit: The Brothers Ilirium

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?

A church choir was picnicking in a rest area near Pine Gorge when they heard the distant squeal of tires. The choir members gazed out over the winding ribbon of road in time to see a red convertible slam through a guard rail and sail out into the steep gorge. The driver was thrown clear of the vehicle seconds before impact. Miraculously, there was no explosion.

The highway patrol found the bloodied body of Mike Ilirium smashed on the boulders. Inside the mangled car were several loose rocks, a tangle of broken branches, and more blood on the seat and the dashboard.

The Ilirium saga was well known to the area gossips. Mike had been engaged to a local beauty. They broke off the engagement when she confessed to having had an affair with one of Mike's brothers; no one knew which.

The authorities visited the Ilirium lodge a half mile up the road from the accident. Mike's two brothers seemed devastated by the news.

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Whodunit: The Chinese Lie detector

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?

When the emperor rose on that April morning, he immediately noticed the silence. "There's no cricket. Where's my cricket?" he demanded. The servants of the bed chamber checked all the usual places, but the cricket was gone—and so was its jeweled cricket box.

The entire royal court was thrown into turmoil until the chirping pet was finally found, housed in a lowly bamboo box and hidden in the corner of a public garden. The emperor was both relieved and outraged. "How dare someone steal from me!" He ordered the captain of the palace guard to find the still-missing box and the culprit.

Finding the box was easy. Lu Ping, a near-sighted gem dealer, bought it from a palace servant and only realized later what he had purchased. With the most abject apologies, he returned it to the emperor. 'I don't know if I can recognize the man who sold it to me," he said with a squint. "I'll do my  best."

From the gem dealer's description, the captain narrowed down the suspects to three. But the dealer couldn't make a positive identification, and none of the three would confess. "Hang them all," the emperor commanded.

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Whodunit: Who Killed Santa Claus?

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 Ludie Cochrane)

It was midnight on Christmas Eve when the maintenance staff of Kimble's came to work in the deserted department store. When they arrived at the North Pole display, they discovered every child's worst nightmare, the lifeless body of Santa Claus. He was in a storage room, his head bashed in by the butt end of a .44 revolver.

Santa's off-duty name was Rudolph Pringle. "That's Rudolph's revolver," the manager informed the police. "He started carrying it after a six-year-old pulled a knife on him."

"Do you know anyone who would want to see Rudolph dead—besides the six-year-old?"

The manager cleared his throat. "Santa's been having a lot of fights with his elves. I know three elves who'd threatened to kill him."

The detective had the murder weapon bagged. Then he placed it on the center of the interview table, right where the suspects would be forced to look at it. "Rudolph Pringle has been murdered," he informed each elf. "What do you know about it?"

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Whodunit: A Timely Alibi

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 Ian Britton)

The murder occurred in the wee hours of the morning on the last Sunday of October and looked like a professional hit. The victim, Sol Weintraub, ran a garbage-collection business that was going in direct competition with a mob-owned company. Days after winning a contract with the city's convention center, Sol was found dead in his suburban home.

The killer had broken into the man's house, shot him once in the head with a silencer-equipped .38, and left, taking no valuables.

It was now early November and the police were no closer to finding their killer. The medical examiner was placing the time of death at between 2 and 3 A.M. But the mob's most reliable "enforcers" all had alibis.

Johnny "Dum-Dum" Falco had been out on the town that Saturday night. Witnesses saw him at the Tropicana Club until 2 A.M. Other witnesses, just as reliable, placed Dum-Dum at a nearby tavern from 3 A.M. until closing. No matter how the police timed it, the murder scene was a good 40 minutes away from both the Tropicana and the tavern.

Victor Conroy's alibi was even better. He'd been a patient at Mercy Memorial. The young hit man had been in a minor car accident and was being held overnight. A nurse checked his room every hour, all night. Mercy Memorial was also nearly 40 minutes from the crime.

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Whodunit: The Locked Room

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 Nick Klein)

"I'm changing my will," Abigail Wallace announced. Her four children might have been adopted, but they were just as spoiled and ungrateful as any natural offspring. "Tomorrow I'm cutting you all off without a cent." And with that satisfying but reckless statement, Abigail rose from the dining room table and headed up to her bedroom.

No one was surprised when a gunshot rang out two hours later. The only surprise was that it had taken so long.

"I was downstairs reading," Manny later told the police. "As soon as I heard the shot, I ran upstairs and down the hall to Mother's room. It was locked from the inside."

Moe had also been downstairs, in the kitchen. "I ran up the back staircase. Manny was already at Mother's door, pounding and calling out her name."

"I was in my own room at the far end of the hall," said Jack, the third child to arrive at the scene. "I suggested looking through the keyhole. But Manny and Moe decided to put their shoulders to the door instead."

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Whodunit: The Shortcut Robbery

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 Carbon Arc)

It was 1 PM when the two officers heard the cry for help. They responded quickly, racing down an alley to find a woman sitting on the ground, massaging a nasty bump on the back of her head. It took them a minute to get her to speak coherently.

Her name was Mary Ramsey. She worked at a jewelry store and had been in the process of taking yesterday's receipts to the bank. "I do this every day. My boss warned me not to use the alley. Today I had a feeling I was being followed. Like an idiot, I took the alley anyway. I heard footsteps. Before I could even turn around, I was hit on the head.

"I fell down," Mary continued. "But it didn't quite knock me out. He was running away with my money bag. I only saw him from the rear. He was tall and had on blue jeans and a dark-colored cardigan."
The officers brought in two men for questioning, both tall and both dressed according to Mary's description.

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Whodunit: The Three Stoogles

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 Shannon)

When the police arrived at Hubert Stoogle's house, the motif seemed to be water. The sprinkler system was going full force, and the owner of the premises was lying dead in his own bathtub.

The man's three nephews lined up on the sun-drenched front porch, each one eager to tell his story.
"Once a week Uncle Hubert had us over for lunch," Stanley Stoogle said. "I parked in the front drive. Uncle wasn't around, so I assumed he was taking his usual soak. As I went into the library, a summer shower passed over. Five minutes later, the sun was out again. It was a few minutes after that when I heard Uncle shouting. Then all the lights sputtered and went out. I went upstairs and found him. Someone had thrown an electric hair dryer into his tub."

"I got here during the shower," volunteered Dick Stoogle. His hair and clothes were still wet. "I parked behind Stanley. Just running up to the porch I got drenched. I was in a downstairs bathroom drying off when I heard the shout and saw the lights go off. When I got up to Uncle's bathroom, Stanley was standing over the tub. A wet hair dyer was in his hand."

Eugene said he arrived last. "The shower was long over. The driveway was full of cars, so I parked by the rear garden. Once inside, I noticed the place was dark. I wandered around, looking for my brothers. Then Stanley came down and told me the news."

The boys all agreed about what happened next. Eugene ran out to move his car. "The darn sprinklers had gone on and the inside of my convertible was soaked." Meanwhile, Stanley went downstairs to replace the blown fuse, and Dick used his cellular phone to call the police.

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Whodunit: A Quali-Tee Theft

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 Kamal Hamid)

"I can't give you anything for this. It's junk." Abe Ketchum pushed the watch back across the counter. The Quali-Tee Pawn Shop was a class establishment and, as the manager, Abe had to maintain certain standards. The would-be customer, a shabby young man who smelled of liquor, took back the worthless item and shuffled dejectedly out onto the street, lingering in front of the windows to inspect the shiny display of abandoned valuables.

Abe's assistant bustled out from the back room. "I'm leaving," Mark said. That was nothing unusual. Mark Price was the owner's nephew and was always either coming in late or leaving early. Abe felt particularly overworked and under-appreciated as he watched his privileged assistant breeze out the door.

Abe had one more customer that day. A well-dressed woman walked in and timidly offered an emerald brooch. Abe instantly recognized the quality of the piece and offered her as much as he was permitted. He was surprised when she accepted. Like many of his customers, she seemed desperate.

That night, a burglar alarm echoed through the neighborhood. The police arrived just a few minutes later, but the deed was already done. A thief had broken a display window, jumped inside the crowded shop, and left with many of the most valuable items.

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Whodunit: The Convent Mystery

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?

"We have a little mystery at the Inner City Convent," the Mother Superior said as she poured a second cup of tea.

Inspector Griffith was immediately interested.

"It's the convent offices. We have three civilian employees there to handle the mail and the bills and the bookkeeping. Alice has been with us for years. Very reliable, even though she has a bit of a drinking problem and a husband who... Let's just say he can use our prayers.

"Barbara is new. She worked at an Alaskan convent before coming here. She's seems wonderful, although we're still waiting for the sisters there to send us a character reference.

"Our third is Claudia. Ever since the city opened up riverboat gambling... Well, I'm not going to point fingers, but there have been some minor irregularities in our petty cash.

"As you know, the office is closed all weekend. On Monday morning I arrive first. I open up, check the mail, water the plants, turn off the alarm. We have this newfangled alarm system. It does all the usual. And it also automatically records whenever the alarm has been turned off. I never quite saw the sense of that. But four Mondays ago when I came in, I checked the log. The alarm had been turned off Saturday afternoon. For five minutes. Then it was switched back on. I didn't think anything of it. Someone probably came back to retrieve some forgotten item.

"The next Monday, I found the same thing. Turned off Saturday afternoon for five minutes. I asked the women—they all have alarm keys. All three denied having visited the office.

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Whodunit: An Inside Job

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 David Shankbone)

The schedule at Klein Miller Accounting ran like clockwork. For example, on Friday mornings, Arthur Klein always took the train from their Connecticut offices into Manhattan. He would return at 1 P.M. and go immediately into the partners' meeting. Except for this Friday. On this Friday, he was mugged and robbed seconds after arriving in Manhattan.

The New York police held out little hope. "It was just bad luck," a sergeant commiserated. "There's no way a mugger could know you were carrying those bearer bonds."

"I normally don't carry anything," Klein moaned. "But one of our clients needed to transport the bonds to his New York bank. I agreed to take them—as a favor. This will ruin us."

The next train to Connecticut was at 1:10 and Klein was on it. Immediately on arriving, he met with Phil Miller, the other senior partner. "I didn't tell the police this," Arthur confided. "But someone here must have been in on the theft. The mugger was following me. He knew I had the bonds."

The two partners walked past the conference room where Betty, their executive assistant, had just finished setting up for the partners' meeting. "That's quite an accusation," Phil whispered.

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Whodunit: Death by Chocolate

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 Matt Galisa)

The four finalists lined up in the hotel ballroom, all smiling for the photographers and all wearing knee-length aprons, each custom-made apron proclaiming "The Great Dessert Bake-Off." Bob Bullock's smile was genuine. His entry, "Death by Chocolate," had been a runaway favorite in the preliminaries. And the others knew it.

"I'm going up to my room for a nap," the lanky Texan drawled as he folded his apron and tucked it under his arm. "See you gals at the finals."

One of the three "gals" smiled back with a murderous gleam. "Not if I can help it." She waited five minutes, then wiped her sweaty palms on her apron and headed for the elevator.

An hour later, a maid found the body. Bob Bullock was laid out on his bed, still dressed in his cowboy shirt and jeans, his head smashed in by a cooking mallet. Blood was splattered everywhere.

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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?

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"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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