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."
Systematically, they searched the room. There was nothing in the empty champagne bottle. Nothing on the thick Persian carpet. The crystal decanter set was in place and all the containers filled to the top with whiskey, port, and bourbon. The glasses were examined, as were the folds of the red tied-back curtains flanking the locked windows. They even inspected the red crystal chandelier.
"What about the dog and cat?" Henry asked. The butler quickly rounded up both pets, stuck his fingers down their throats and then checked out their favorite hiding places.
In desperation, all the guests permitted themselves to be searched. Still nothing.
Police Inspector Clyde, the poorest member of the gathering, finally spoke. "It does look like robbery," he said reluctantly. "And while I don't know who took the ruby necklace, I can tell you where it is now."
Where is the necklace? And how did Inspector Clyde 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.