(Image credit: Flickr user Shawn Clover)
It was 8:50 P.M. and Jules Marigold was closing up shop. The antique dealer wound all the clocks while his employees tallied up the receipts. When Marigold tried setting the alarm, he was annoyed to find it out of order. "Oh, well," he sighed. "I suppose one night without an alarm won't kill me." He was wrong.
Around midnight, when the Downtown Citizens' Patrol shone their flashlights through the storefront window, they saw a chaotic mess. Lying in the middle of the mess was the bludgeoned body of Jules Marigold.
Marigold lived above his shop. The police theorized that he'd heard a burglar breaking in and that the two men had fought. Among the wreckage was a toppled, broken grandfather clock. The hands had stopped at 11:09. "I guess that sets the time of the murder."
Since there was no sign of forced entry, the police concentrated on the only people with keys, Marigold's employees.
George Lafleur had been the first to leave. "I had a 9 P.M. class," he explained. 'Antique appraising. I'm planning to open my own business." The professor remembered George. He also remembered ending the class at 10:45, giving George enough time to make it back to the shop and commit murder.
Charlie Weed said he'd walked home, changed clothes, then gone out to a nearby dance club. The club doorman recalled Charlie perfectly. 'At 11 we start charging a cover. This guy seemed real proud for getting here a minute early and saving himself five bucks." The bartenders also recalled Charlie, who nursed the same drink for over an hour.
Derrick Posie had left the shop to have dinner alone at his favorite cafe. The owner knew Derrick well and estimated that the young, lonely clerk finished his meal shortly after 10:30.
The forensics squad dusted the scene. Prints of Marigold and his employees were found on many items in the shop, but not anywhere on the grandfather clock.
"No prints on the grandfather clock?" the chief of detectives mused. "That's a dead giveaway. We have our killer."
Whodunit? And how did the police 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.