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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. Even the study's extension phone had been wiped clean of prints. "When did you last see the deceased?" asked the homicide captain.
"About 9:45," said Nurse Abbott. "I brought him his tea in the study. He was on the phone to his lawyer. Mr. Cord was always fiddling with his will. It got to the point where we no longer paid attention. I went to the kitchen to straighten up and wait for his daughter-in-law's call. It was just like any other evening."
"Not quite," said the captain. He was examining the phone records that had just arrived via fax. "Mrs. Cord telephoned from her home 30 miles away?"
"Yes. So it had to be an intruder," Nurse Abbott theorized. "Maybe a burglar or a hired assassin. Mr. Cord had his share of business enemies."
"No. I think it was someone a lot closer to home."
Who did the captain 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.
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