(Image credit: Flickr user Sophie Su)
"All right, Mr. Darden." The Automobile Club operator read back the information. "Your car has a flat. You have a spare, but it's in your trunk and the trunk lock is broken. You're pulled over on Route 5. I'll have a tow truck out to you immediately."
Alex Darden flipped shut his cellular phone and shivered in the night air. Maybe he'd get lucky. Maybe someone would come along before the tow truck arrived.
The tow truck driver found the car easily enough. He saw the flat tire, still on the wheel, and the jack on the ground beside it. Next he saw the blood on the jack, and finally the body. Alex Darden, middle-aged businessman, had been robbed, then bludgeoned to death.
As luck would have it, the highway patrol had been conducting a sobriety check half a mile west of the murder scene. One of the officers had taken down license numbers, and before long, the police were focusing on three motorists who had passed by before the tow truck's arrival.
Arnold Aspic's motorcycle had been stopped first. "I saw a car off the side of the road," he told them the next day. "I stopped to see if the driver needed help. He needed a spare tire and, of course, I didn't have one. I should have mentioned it to you guys at the checkpoint, but I for-got."
Nan Bigelow was next. The female trucker had driven her eighteen-wheeler right past the stranded car. "I was glancing at a map," she admitted. "I'm sure I would have noticed someone on the roadside waving for help. But I didn't see a thing."
Tom Enjerry's brand-new convertible was the last vehicle to pass by before the tow truck's arrival. "I saw the car," Tom testified. 'As I drove past, I looked around for the driver, but I didn't see him."
The investigating officer reviewed his notes. "I think I know who did it. And there's an easy way to check it out."
Whodunit? And how can the officer check his theory?
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.