(Image credit: Daniel Schwen)
After two straight days of dark skies, the stationary front moved, bathing the city of Seattle in bright sunshine. The change seemed to put everyone in a good mood. Well, almost everyone. Fifteen minutes after the sun broke through, a gunshot rang out in the offices of Claxton & Brightman, attorneys-at-law.
As luck would have it, a trio of security guards just happened to be sitting in the Claxton & Brightman reception area. The guards barreled through an inner door and down the hall. The firm's senior partner, Henry Claxton, lay in a pool of blood in his office, most decidedly dead.
Without exchanging a word, the experienced guards broke up, looking for anyone who might have seen anything. Only three offices were occupied and each occupant had a story.
"I heard Claxton arguing with someone," Annette Goulding told guard number one. "I was reviewing court documents and I tried to mentally block out the sound."
The guard saw the red light blinking on Annette's voice-mail system and asked how long she'd been here in her office. "For nearly an hour," she replied. "When I'm busy I don't answer my phone."
Meanwhile, the second guard was talking to George Brightman, the firm's surviving partner. 'As you can see, Henry's office is way on the other side. I heard nothing until the gunshot. Then I opened my door and looked out into the hall. I heard running footsteps but didn't see anyone." The guard noticed that George's window was open, allowing a warm breeze to play through the blinds.
The third guard was with the firm's youngest lawyer, Ellen Youst. "I've been holed up here for hours, working on a speech I'm delivering tonight." She pointed to her computer, the screen awash in sunlight from the window. Ellen swiveled it so the guard could see. It certainly looked like a boring, lawyerly speech.
While the receptionist called the police, the guards compared notes. "All their alibis seem weak," said guard number two. "But one of them is definitely lying."
Whom does he 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.