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?
At the end of an hour, the suspects had all left, each one alone. Carmine Catrone had never shown up.
A frustrated Brady wandered past the pay phone. That's when he saw the matchbook in the wastebasket. On a hunch, Brady retrieved it, opening the flap. Four matches had been torn from the left side, and on the top flap was scrawled a phone number—Carmine Catrone's phone number.
Brady reasoned it out. One of his suspects had phoned Catrone, warning him not to come. And Brady knew just who it was.
Who was it? And how did Brady know?
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.