Can you solve this mini-mystery?



By Richard Ciciarelli

Detective Stacey York looked at the body of Jake McClintock. It was obvious the cause of death was a bullet through the heart.

“Time of death?” she asked.

“Roughly eleven last night,” the medical examiner said. “Give or take twenty minutes.”

York turned to one of the men on her team. “Any clues?”

“We found McClintock’s bankbook. He deposited checks from three different people for 25,000 dollars each just last week.”

“I’ll want to talk to those people,” York said. “As soon as possible.”

On Monday a man in his late fifties sat in York’s office.

“So he’s dead,” Thomas Gray said. “Well, he deserved it.”

“You paid McClintock 25,000 dollars,” York said. “Why?”

“He came to me a while back with a proposition,” Gray explained. “It seems some men were demolishing an old manor house in England and one of the workers found something in the floorboards.”

“What was it?”

“Supposedly a lost sonnet written by William Shakespeare. The man offered to sell it to McClintock for 50,000 American dollars. McClintock bought it and said he’d sell it to me for 75,000.

“Well, I didn’t have that kind of money, so I got two of my friends to join me as partners.”

“Why would McClintock come to you?”

“I’m a librarian. He figured I’d appreciate the value of such an acquisition.”

“Do you?”

“I did until I saw the sonnet. That was after we had paid McClintock.”

“What was wrong?”

“The paper and ink seemed genuine, but in the sonnet Shakespeare makes reference to seeing his beloved in silhouette one evening.”


“So the word silhouette came into use as a term of mockery toward Etienne de Silhouette, who lived from 1709 to 1767 – over 100 years after Shakespeare’s death. The ‘lost sonnet’ was a fake.

“We demanded our money back, but McClintock refused, saying he had been cheated, too. We were sure this was all a con.”

“Where were you Saturday?”

“Let’s see…I mowed my lawn in the morning, then I spent some time at my brother’s house, and then I went to a late movie.”

York dismissed Gray and an hour later was talking with Fred Lucy.

“I’m a clerk in a department store,” Lucy said after repeating the sonnet story. “That 25,000 dollars was my life savings. I was supposed to share millions from the sale of that sonnet.”

“So I’m sure you were very upset when you found it to be a fake. Where were you Saturday when McClintock was murdered?”

“Saturday? At a sales conference out of state. I went to it after work on Friday and didn’t get home until after nine Sunday evening.”

Two hours later Art Hatter sat in York’s office. After telling York the same story Gray and Lucy had, Hatter said, “I can’t say I’m upset the guy’s dead. He cheated us, plain and simple.”

“Where were you Saturday when McClintock was killed?” York asked.

“I’m a house painter,” Hatter explained.  “I work six days a week, and climbing up and down a ladder tires me out. I was in bed well before eleven, Detective.”

“How much do you know about the works of Shakespeare?”

“Almost nothing. But Tom Gray knows plenty, and when he told me there was a chance to turn 25,000 dollars into a big pay day, I told him I’d take a chance. I had to paint a lot of houses to come up with that kind of money, but I thought maybe this meant early retirement for me.”

“And when you discovered the sonnet was a fake?”

“When Tom told Fred and me, we decided to hire a lawyer and sue McClintock. We still might. Maybe we can sue his estate and get our money back.”

Late Monday evening York sat in her office going over her notes on the case.

“Hmmm,” she said to herself, “here’s something interesting. Maybe I should check on this guy a little further.”



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