(Image credit: Flickr user Matt Galisa)
The four finalists lined up in the hotel ballroom, all smiling for the photographers and all wearing knee-length aprons, each custom-made apron proclaiming "The Great Dessert Bake-Off." Bob Bullock's smile was genuine. His entry, "Death by Chocolate," had been a runaway favorite in the preliminaries. And the others knew it.
"I'm going up to my room for a nap," the lanky Texan drawled as he folded his apron and tucked it under his arm. "See you gals at the finals."
One of the three "gals" smiled back with a murderous gleam. "Not if I can help it." She waited five minutes, then wiped her sweaty palms on her apron and headed for the elevator.
The police ruled out robbery. The chef's wallet had been untouched. And all of his clothes—two shirts, two pairs of jeans, socks, shoes, underwear, jacket, and a tall chef's toque—seemed to be present and accounted for.
When the police knocked on Vanna Blackhorn's door, they had to wait. "I was in the shower," she explained as she began toweling off her short black hair. "I came back here straight from the photo session. I want to look my best when I win tonight."
They found the second finalist also in her room. Dotty Minton invited them in, then went back to washing out a sweater in the sink. "I should've known better than to wear a long-sleeved sweater when I cook. I don't think this strawberry stain will ever come out."
The police didn't get to Kelly Yeagar until just before the finals. She was already dressed to go, wearing her best blouse and skirt, covered by a bake-off apron. "I'm ready," she told the coordinator and didn't even notice the detective. "If I'm not going to win, I might as well look good," she joked, then bent over to straighten the apron that was bunching up around her calves.
The detective introduced himself, and then, for the third time, explained about Bob Bullock's murder. "You don't have to worry, Ms. Yeagar. Everything's under control. We know who killed him."
Whodunit? And how did they 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.
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