(Image credit: Flickr user Ludie Cochrane)
It was midnight on Christmas Eve when the maintenance staff of Kimble's came to work in the deserted department store. When they arrived at the North Pole display, they discovered every child's worst nightmare, the lifeless body of Santa Claus. He was in a storage room, his head bashed in by the butt end of a .44 revolver.
Santa's off-duty name was Rudolph Pringle. "That's Rudolph's revolver," the manager informed the police. "He started carrying it after a six-year-old pulled a knife on him."
"Do you know anyone who would want to see Rudolph dead—besides the six-year-old?"
The manager cleared his throat. "Santa's been having a lot of fights with his elves. I know three elves who'd threatened to kill him."
The detective had the murder weapon bagged. Then he placed it on the center of the interview table, right where the suspects would be forced to look at it. "Rudolph Pringle has been murdered," he informed each elf. "What do you know about it?"
Joe Winters shivered and couldn't stop staring at the gun. "I know nothing. Some of the guys had trouble with Rudolph. But he was always nice to me. I left the store at nine, right when it closed. I was too tired to change, so I wore my costume home. No one said a word on the subway."
"Rudolph was a pig," snarled Sam Petrie, the second elf. "If he pushed me too far, I wouldn't smash his head in. I'd sue. What's the use of a dead Santa when a live one can be made to pay?"
Robert Goldstein was the smallest elf. On hearing the news, he burst into tears. "Last week, Rudolph started a fight. He said I was too slow bringing in the kids. He slapped me on the head and called me all sorts of names. But I didn't kill him."
The detective called in his assistant. "Well, we have our killer," he said with a smile. 'All I had to do was use a little psychology."
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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