Whodunit: Eye Spy

The following is a Whodunit by Hy ConradThese mysteries are from The Little Giant® Book of Whodunits by Hy Conrad and Matt LaFleur. Can you solve the mystery before you read the solution?

(Image credit: Flickr user Peter Morgan)

The American agent used his skeleton keys to work on the lock while his female partner acted as lookout. It was hard to see clearly in the dreary hall light in the dreary apartment building in the dreary winter weather of Beijing. But David Richman finally cracked the mechanism and opened the door.

"Hurry," he whispered, motioning for Julia to join him. Inside it was just as chilly as the hall.

"We're looking for photographic negatives," he told Julia for perhaps the tenth time. "35 millimeter. Lu Ching hasn't had time to reduce them any further. Thank goodness it's a small apartment."

It was small, all right. The tiny studio contained a futon bed that doubled as a sofa. There were also a bookcase, a table, two chairs, and an old-fashioned desk fan that whirred noisily on top of a cluttered desk. A hot plate served as the apartment's kitchen. From a small adjoining bathroom came the sound of a leaky toilet.

"We have to find them," David whispered as he went directly for the bookcase. "The lives of a dozen Chinese contacts depend on our finding those eight negatives." He was already going through the books page by page, checking the covers for any telltale slits where the agent for the People's Republic might have stuffed them.

"Lu Ching didn't have a lot of time to hide them," David added. "And he needed to keep them in a pretty accessible place. It shouldn't be too hard."

But it was. They checked under everything, from the desk clutter to the chair seats. They checked the water flow in all the faucets and the toilet tank. David became so frustrated he was almost ready to cut open the futon.

Julia stepped back and surveyed the room. "I see it now. I know where they probably are," she said softly.

What clue is Julia looking at?

Show Answer

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.

Currently, Hy is working on mystery novel series "Abel Adventures" as well as the Monk series of novels, starting with Mr. Monk Helps Himself (published by Penguin, order from Amazon here)

Check out Hy's official website and Facebook page - and stay tuned for more whodunits puzzlers on Neatorama from the master of whodunit mysteries himself!

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My room fan is two decades old (or older) it stays on 24/7 regardless of the weather or temperature. Why? Because one day I got a bit chilly and turned it off and when I turned it back on it made the most horrible screeching noise and slowly rotated to a stop. I left it off for a week before turning it on again and it worked, but poorly. Over the course of a week it regained it's usual vigor and I've never turned it off since as it likely will never, Ever start again.
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During the winter, the Chinese government turns on the public heat for buildings in the north*, which includes Beijing. Regardless of the weather, citizens cannot turn on the heat; the heat does not come on until the government says it's time to come on (sometime in mid-November). Nor can citizens control the amount of heat; it's on full-blast until sometime in the Spring, when the government decides to shut it off, again regardless of the weather.
So it's normal for the fan to be on in the winter, because this apartment probably would have been really hot inside.

* The people in the south don't get government heat, regardless of the weather. How does the Chinese government define 'north' and 'south'? The Yellow River.
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