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Whodunit: The Playboy's Empty Vase

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: إبراهيم الشعيبي)

Morton was a bad influence. So was Archie. And that's probably why they were such good friends. The two playboys had simultaneously squandered their trust funds and now were facing the consequences.
"I suppose I'll have to start selling things," Morton said with a shiver. He had just arrived home from a night on the town. "Want to come in for a drink, old man?"

Never one to say no, Archie followed his friend inside. Morton's trusted valet, Gene, was there to pour their drinks and watch as his employer removed his diamond cufflinks and tossed them into an empty vase in the library.

Archie stayed for one drink, complained about his own financial straits, then headed out into the damp night air. Morton exited the house a minute later, taking his German shepherd for a walk that they both felt they could use.

It was only a short while later when a police squad car passed by on a routine patrol and spotted a suspicious-looking character on the terrace. It was Archie.

"My car wouldn't start," Archie told the officers. "I was just about to walk back here to call the garage when I heard glass breaking." He pointed to the shards of broken glass on the terrace and then to the hole in the terrace's French doors. The glass pane right above the latch had been smashed and the door stood open. "Looks like a burglar."

When Morton came in from walking the dog, he found one police officer searching his friend and the other searching the library. He also found the diamond cufflinks missing from the library vase.
"We caught him almost red-handed," the senior officer told Morton. "But we can't find the cufflinks. Were they insured?"

"Yes, of course," Morton replied. "Just look at the mess you've made." He pointed to the muddy footprints they'd tracked in from the garden. "If there was any evidence of a real burglar, you've completely obliterated it."

But Morton was wrong. There was one piece of evidence. And it pointed straight to the thief.

Whodunit? And what was the evidence?

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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"But we can't find the cufflinks. Were they insured?"
"Yes, of course," Morton replied. "Just look at the mess you've made." He pointed to the muddy footprints they'd tracked in from the garden. "If there was any evidence of a real burglar, you've completely obliterated it."

So the cufflinks were insured, the first thing Morton mentions is that the police made a mess rather than worrying about his loss, and he uses a curious adjective: a "real" burglar. Seems that there are three clues pointing toward Morton, and he just as likely as Gene could have knocked out the glass from inside, making it a total of four clues pointing his way.

In short, I agree with EdwardCarney.
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It seems to me that it's still possible for Morton himself to have removed the cufflinks and hidden them in the valet's sock drawer in hopes of reclaiming them and collecting the insurance money. There's a gap in time between when the two friends left, and Gene's location at that time is not specified. It's also possible that Morton took the dog out as a cover, tied it up outside and sneaked back to move the cufflinks. We don't know how far away Archie was parked, how long he tried to start his car, and whether Morton had time to go inside and draw his friend's attention to the terrace before sneaking out again. I wouldn't rule out Morton as a suspect based on the narrative given above.
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