Sergeant Vacca had been on the homicide squad for eight years and had never once run into a deathbed clue. Not once had he heard a dying man blurt out the name of his killer or seen him grab at his St. Christopher medal in order to incriminate a suspect named Chris. Even though he was a devout mystery fan, Sergeant Vacca had begun to seriously doubt that such things ever really happened. Until now.
His captain was still skeptical. "Who says this is a deathbed clue? Looks like a bunch of gibberish." The gibberish consisted of two words typed on a computer screen.
The police had found Maria Consuela alone in her downtown office cubicle. The attractive legal secretary had stayed late to finish typing up a brief and had been rewarded with a blunt object to the head and ribs. There was no sign of forced entry and little sign of struggle—an indication that she had known her attacker.
A pool of blood trailed away from the cubicle's doorway and ended in Maria's collapsed body, right under the edge of her desk. "It must have taken her last ounce of strength to crawl over here," Sergeant Vacca theorized. "She must have had some reason."
He gazed again at the computer screen. The last thing typed was a line of legal jargon transcribed from her boss's legal pad. The line ended abruptly in mid-sentence and was followed by two nonsensical words: "48dy 28oo8qjw."
"Forget the gibberish," ordered the captain. "Let's concentrate on her male co-workers. Office gossip says Maria was having an affair with one of them." He checked his notepad. "We have Richard Williams, Gary Hallardi, and Paul Cattalgo. Check on 'em."
"Wait a minute," Vacca said as he stared at the names. "I know who it was. Good old Maria did leave us a message."
Whom does Vacca suspect and what does the message mean?
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.