(Image credit: Flickr user Neven Mrgan)
Roger Vail was having a bad day. First off, the advertising executive spilled coffee over the back of the roller chair in his redecorated office, resulting in a permanent stain. Then his computer went haywire. With his hard drive gone, Roger had to stay late to complete a report. And to top it off, while he was working late, he was shot three times in the back and killed.
When the cleaning woman entered Roger's office that night, she thought it was empty. The chair back faced her, a virtual wall of beige. Her expert eye quickly noticed the three tiny blemishes on the fabric, three little round holes. She came closer, rolling the chair away from the broken computer and toward the light. Roger Vail's corpse slumped forward, the holes in his back matching the bullet holes pumped into the chair.
Roger's death shocked his colleagues. "Everyone liked him," Joan Jackson sighed the next morning as she watered her flowers. "If there was a murder here, I would have expected . . ." She left it unfinished, piquing the curiosity of the interrogating officer. Blakemore Advertising, it turned out, was a hotbed of seething emotions.
Joan, for example, was having a feud with her creative partner, Elsa Gripper. Just the day before, the two of them had come to blows, resulting in Joan's dramatic black eye. And then there was Sammy Frick. On the very day of the murder, Sammy had loudly threatened to kill Orrie Kindale, the man who Sammy felt had cheated him out of a much-deserved promotion.
Orrie occupied the office right next to the victim's. He tried to make light of the company squabbles, but he was definitely nervous. "Tempers flare in the advertising world, but no one really means it." The executive rested his arm over the top of his chair, as if trying to hide the brown stain that poured down the tall chair back.
"Orrie knows more than he's saying," the homicide captain muttered. "I think I know what happened."
What does the captain think happened? Who killed Roger Vail?
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.