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The murder should have been discovered at 7 AM. That's when Gil Caster's assistant, Marie, was supposed to arrive at his Austin, Texas, home and start helping him prepare for the biggest night of his career, the Governor's Chili con Carne Ball.
But Marie and Gil had had a fight just the night before and Marie had quit, leaving Gil's estranged wife, a local television reporter, to find the body at 3 p.m. when she and her crew showed up to interview him. Before the police even arrived, a tearful Aretha Caster was live on the air, reporting the death of her own husband: "Just minutes ago, Texas's most famous down-home chef was found in his kitchen, apparently hacked to death with a meat cleaver. In what can only be described as a cruel afterthought, the unknown killer stuffed the murdered man, head first, into his own chili pot."
That night at eight, the Governor's dinner went on as scheduled, thanks in large part to Austin's second-best chili chef, an opportunist named Winston Short. 'As soon as I heard the news, I threw the pinto beans in to soak, mixed up the corn bread mash, and telephoned the Governor's Office, offering my services. I would've liked to give the spices more time to simmer, but I think we all understand the unfortunate circumstances I was working under."
Even as the ballroom full of VIPs were gorging themselves on Winston's savory beans and meat, the Austin police were busy interviewing Marie. "Gil was using my family recipe for his chili," the ex-assistant told them. "He promised to give me credit in the ball's menu. But last night I found out he hadn't done any such thing. I called him up and quit, right over the phone. I haven't been to his house since the day before yesterday."
The police reviewed the evidence and brought in a suspect for question.
Who? And what made them suspicious?
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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