Yep. Today's the day. I promised and here it is.
So . . . you think you're smart? How good are you at detecting? (Larry? Austin? Bro?) Read on to find out!
For our contest, I'm going to give you a scenario of a mystery with a few clues, some red herrings, the suspects, and the main protagonist(s). Whoever can figure it out (whether two or twenty) will move on to the second phase until we have only one winner!
- If you have a question, feel free to ask. If I can, I will answer.
- There are red herrings. Some things are not what they seem.
- You must pay attention to all of what is written to get the real clue. It's obscure (I think), so pay attention!
- I tried to make it easy enough for everyone, yet hard enough that the best detectives (of my readers) won't guess right away! (That was no easy task, let me assure you!)
- And if I see that I missed something, or something's not clear, I will expand later in the week.
- You'll have till early Tuesday morning (when I'll announce either a winner or ties) to get a solution to me. Email me, write a letter, phone me, or comment on this blog.
The Case of the Stolen Valuable Book
Allison (Ali, for short) Peters is a young 52 year old head librarian in the small town of Happy Tales. She works six days a week, half days on Thursdays and Tuesdays. She knows everyone and everyone knows her. Almost.
On Saturday, the library was hopping. Lots and lots of town folk were there returning books and checking them out. The computers were constantly in use. Several of the town retirees used the tables to read and check out all the newspapers. A couple of students and a few teachers were doing research.
So you can see that the library was REALLY busy.
Ali brings her dog to work with her every day. He's a big ole dog--a collie--black and tan and white--spoiled rotten and affectionate to those he loves. The children love him, and he puts up with their antics--tugging his ears and pulling his tail. But it's the senior people, that frequent the library, who he really adores. He loves all of them. Almost.
Noah also was a self-appointed guard of her office. No one got past him, unless he wanted--or Ali commanded--them to.
Now the library wasn't only a place to read and borrow, it was used (in this small town) as a popular place to display quaint and valuable (or unvaluable) items by individuals and organizations. On display now was a rare book collection, housed in a glass case. Inside this locked case was one book that was especially valuable.
That evening after all the customers had gone and the employees headed to their homes, Ali walked slowly through the library:
- straightened a chair and picked up an index card that lay on the seat
- checked that all computers were shut down (although the other employees were supposed to do that) and frowned at the gum wrappers that lay under the computer where someone had shoved them
- She scooted several books into a neater row. "Fussy, fussy. Why must I do this every Saturday as if this place is my home?" She reproached herself even as she kept on tidying the shelves.
- She refiled a book that was out of order and shook her head. "A mystery in the romance section." Hmmph!
- She picked up two books that lay on their backs as if someone had wanted to check them out and hadn't, and refiled them. She smiled to herself. Someone liked intriguing books. "How to Install Any Kind of Padlock" and "How to Be a Sagacious Criminal." Someone taking up a life of crime? Some student, no doubt. Ali stood and thought about it for a minute.
Ali sucked in a breath and counted the books in the case. Nine. She counted again. The really valuable book was missing.
Ali looked at the lock on the case. It looked okay. Wasn’t broken. She looked all around the case. Noah was nosing something under the case, so she bent to see what it was and picked up a gum wrapper crumpled right behind the front leg of the case. Where had that come from?
Ali locked up the library and walked home in a daze. All day Sunday, she wondered who could have taken the book. Once she searched in her jacket pocket and found the index card she’d stuck in it Saturday evening. She read what was on the card. Hmmm. A list of the rare books in the case. Who’d written this?
She knew she should call the police, but she was ashamed that someone had taken that book right from under her nose (so to speak). She rung Ross’s phone number, ready to confess what had happened, but his sister told her he was out of town.
On Monday morning Ali arrived early at the library before anyone else was there. At her desk, she sat down at her computer and pulled up the names of all who’d been in the library on Saturday.
Then she sat back. How could anyone have gotten the keys to the case? She had the only available key (the other was in the safe) which she kept on the bulletin board that hung just inside the door. Anyone who’d wanted a key would have had to enter her office while she was out, lift the key and find a time when no one was looking to open that case.
So . . . who was it?
Ali taped a pencil on her pad. She got up and walked back into the library. Then turned around and walked past the case, down the hall past her office, then further to the restrooms.
Hmmm. Could it have been someone going to the restroom while she was out of the office?
She thought back. Did she remember anyone on Saturday using the facilities?
- There had been Sally Darlington and her little boy, Samuel. Sally and her little boy were both poor, timid and had no knowledge whatsoever of what was valuable and what was not.
- Patricia Prentiss, seventy—and not a day younger—and well-dressed, had passed her office, with her small terrier (who’d gotten loose inside the library on Saturday and caused a ruckus by running clear across the library and barking at some of the children) tucked under her arm, and waved at her. Rich and glamorous with tons of valuable articles in her home, Patricia was one of the biggest benefactors to the library. But would she steal a musty book to add to her collection of antiques?
- Oldsters Tommy Reece and Billy Mace had crippled passed her, arguing and not even seeing her. Billy owned a book from the late 1800’s that Tommy was always wanting to buy. Tommy and Billy both were cantankerous enough to snitch the book, but too feeble to get away with the theft. Weren't they?
- One young teacher had been to the restroom, Joshua Mosley, a guy who dabbled in a small way in buying and selling. She’d heard he’d sell anything for money. And he chewed gum. Ali didn’t particularly like him; he seemed sneaky.
- Several of the students had gone to the restroom, but would they want an old book? What were there names? She could remember Lyon and Ryan, the twins; Sasha, Sherrie, and
. Then there was Nicki and Adam and Benjamin. They all used index cards for school, but she’d known these kids from the time they’d been in diapers. Good kids. Lydia
- Reverend Tattony had stopped and chatted with her for a few minutes after his restroom visit. He used index cards all the time. Said it was handier than scribbling on paper. His own beloved collection of books was huge, but he was honest and too generous. He gave away books, didn’t steal them, did he?
- And several of the library workers had gone there. Index cards were plentiful here at the library.
Could it have been Terri Stockingdale, her assistant? She loved books and did want Ali’s job. She’d been very disgruntled when she had not gotten the head librarian job two years ago; had thought her age at forty-five would give her the advantage. Ali knew she grumbled about it to anyone who would listen. She used index cards and chomped gum. But would she toss the wrappers around the library? Not likely; she loved the place as much as Ali did. Yet, would she steal the book to get Ali in trouble so she could have her job?
She crossed out the students and Rev. Tattony’s name. Then Tommy and Billy were crossed out. Sally and Samuel were next to go. She just could not believe any of them had stolen the book.
That left Patricia, Joshua, and Terri. She looked at her list of suspects.
- Rich Patricia who loved valuable things.
- Young Joshua who’d sell whatever he could get his hands on to get money.
- Terri, her disgruntled assistant, who wanted Ali’s job. Would she do anything to get it?
When the library opened, Ali stood to one side, spoke to her employees, and watched as patrons begin coming. All day she kept her eyes open, listened and thought.
- She accepted a gift of a self-published book from a local elderly gentleman while Noah, panting at the gentleman’s feet had taken the dog bone the man offered him.
- Later, Noah sat up when Tommy passed by, but the older man ignored the dog, and Noah lay back down.
- She smiled when she saw Noah rise to his feet from the doorway of her office and follow sweet old Tilda Manley to the restroom. When they returned, Tilda stopped, patted Noah on the head with her wrinkled hand, and hobbled back to the library while Noel took his sentinel position just inside her doorway.
Ali stared at Noah, her thoughts racing, and suddenly she knew. There was really only one possibility out of her list of suspects. Only one person could have gotten that key and taken that book.
She picked up her phone and punched in a number. When the voice on the other end answered, Ali said, “I know you took the book. You have till closing time to bring it back. Or I’ll have to call the police.”
Who was it?
What clue did Noah give her?
How did Ali figure it out?Now don't forget: your prize is a $10 gift certificate to Bob Evans Restaurant!
Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare. --Japanese proverb