Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Running Around in Circles

Riddle: There are five people. One of them shot and killed one of the other four. Which man is the murderer?  (Normally I am bad at this kind of puzzle, but this one is solvable.)

1. Dan ran in the NY City marathon yesterday with one of the innocent men.
2. Mike considered being a farmer before he moved to the city.
3. Jeff is a topnotch computer consultant and wants to install Ben's new computer next week.
4. The murderer had his leg amputated last month.
5. Ben met Jack for the first time six months ago.
6. Jack has been in seclusion since the crime.
7. Dan used to drink heavily.
8. Ben and Jeff built their last computers together.
9. The murderer is Jack's brother. They grew up together in Seattle.

Consider yourself to be a detective.  So who killed who ?

I complained to my editor that the plot to The Drowning Spool was getting very tangled and not working as my synopsis said it would.  For one thing, a character I was really getting to like was going to be the second victim of my murderer.  That surprised me – I had planned on just one murder –  but when I tried to think of a way to avoid it, I only became more convinced she had to die.  But far worse than that, my editor asked to see what I had, so maybe she could come up with some solid suggestions for it.  I was more than ready to let her do so – but:  When I started to consolidate all the separate files, one for each chapter, into one file, easier for her to read, I realized I had over twenty files (for twelve chapters).  I’d saved one as Chap07, and another as Chap 07, and yet another as Chap-07, and even one as Chap O7!  And each one had its own changes worked on it.  I had to go through and make just one version of each chapter.  What a headache!  How could I have been so incompetent?  I think I’m getting old.  Maybe I should go back to a typewriter.   But it’s done and on my editor’s desk.

When I went to that coin show last week, I bought a coin.  I wasn’t going to buy anything, especially out of my own field of Medieval English silver hammered pennies.  But, walking up and down the aisles collecting donations for a Cub and Boy Scout auction, a coin caught my eye.  It was a Morgan dollar minted in Carson City, Nevada, in 1887.  The beautiful Morgan dollar is a favorite with collectors, but the price for a really good one is astonishing.  They are named after the man who designed them, an assistant engraver for the U.S. Mint named George T. Morgan  My coin is from a desirable mint, but a long way from “brilliant uncirculated.”  On the other hand, it has developed this soft gray patina that I find stunningly lovely.  That's a picture of it up on top of this column.  In person it's a lighter, smoother gray than the photo..

Happy Easter, everyone!

Answer to Riddle:
1. Jack is not the murderer, because he is the brother of the murderer.
2. Dan can't be the murderer since he ran a marathon, and the murderer recently had his leg amputated, and wouldn't be running a marathon of any magnitude that quickly.
3. Ben is not the murderer if he just met Jack, since Jack and the murderer grew up together.
4. This leaves Jeff and Mike.

Since Jeff is still alive (he wants to install a new computer next week, present tense) he must be the murderer.  This means that Jeff killed Mike.


Betty Hechtman said...

I know what you mean about changes that happen to characters as you're writing. In the next crochet mystery I had to find a new killer because I liked the orignal one too much to have her be the bad guy.

Good luck on working out the plot.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you could have the second character be comatose. Just a suggestion