Whodunit: Bell, Booke, or Kendal?

The following is a Whodunit by Hy Conrad featuring Sherman Oliver Holmes, a mysterious crime solver and great-great-grandson of Sherlock Holmes. Can you solve the crime?

(Image credit: Flickr user TheeErin)

"My regrets, Wilson. I have no idea who killed him."

"What?" Sergeant Wilson thought he would never hear Sherman Holmes say those words. He wasn't too happy about it, either. "Okay, okay, calm down." Wilson sounded close to panic himself. "Mr. Boren, maybe you should review the facts."

Sherman and the sergeant were in the downtown offices of Boren Technologies, a designer of handheld computers. Arvin Boren sat at his desk, eyeing the professional detective and the eccentric amateur. "Someone's been stealing our designs. My vice president, Don Silver, and I kept the problem secret. And we narrowed the suspects down to three." He pointed out the window of his private office to where a skinny kid in shirtsleeves was stuffing yellow envelopes into a mail slot.

"That's Wally Bell, an intern from City College. He does a lot of our copying and binding, so he has access to our priority documents. The heavyset guy sitting outside my office, that's Solly Booke, my assistant. He's sending his son to private school. I don't know where he gets the money.

"The third possibility is Inez Kendal." A young woman in a tasteful, expensive suit was tacking a newspaper article to a bulletin board right next to the elevators. "Inez is director of public relations. She has the most contact with our competitors."

Sherman nodded. "Was it Mr. Silver's idea to try to trap the traitor?"

"I'm afraid so," Boren sighed. "We're developing a new version of our Wrist 2002. Don left the plans lying conspicuously on his desk. The thief never took originals, only copies. Don planned to hide in the copy room and catch the guy. Only the guy must have caught him."

Sergeant Wilson took over the narrative. "Silver was killed in the copy room by a blow to the head. Mr. Boren and an associate found the body almost immediately. All three suspects were immediately sequestered and their possessions searched. We haven't been able to locate the plans."

Sherman took the sergeant across to the window but didn't lower his voice. "The thief couldn't afford to be caught with them. My guess is the plans got thrown down that mail slot. It's the only place they could be."

Five minutes later, Sergeant Wilson persuaded a maintenance man to open the ground-floor mail chute. There the plans were, nestled right on top of a layer of yellow envelopes. "Just as I thought," Sherman said, turning to Wilson. "Now I know the killer."



Show Answer

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.

Currently, Hy is working on mystery novel series "Abel Adventures" as well as the Monk series of novels, starting with Mr. Monk Helps Himself (published by Penguin, order from Amazon here)

Check out Hy's official website and Facebook page - and stay tuned for more whodunits puzzlers on Neatorama from the master of whodunit mysteries himself!

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Readers have to make long reaches to solve this story as written. Couldn't Wally Bell have stuffed the plans down the chute as the last item when he was stuffing envelopes in the mail slot? To presume there was the plans would be at the bottom of the pile of mail is based on the assumption that no one else placed mail in the box prior to the murder. In my office, mail is constantly being put in the box through out the day in varying amounts. How are the readers to infer that Sherman was setting up Arvin Boren? There is a 5 minute gap in the story and there is no narrative that Arvin moved from the spot he was being interviewed from.
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