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Can you solve this murder mystery? Read carefully and let us know what you think the solution might be. The answer will appear in February’s issue.

The Inspector pursed his lips, and his sizeable handlebar moustache quivered.
“Let’s go over this again,” he said, rocking on the balls of his feet and looking around the room at the gathered party of people. There were eight of them in all, each one of them as sober as a judge, on account of no alcohol having crossed the threshold of Bickford Hall due to Mrs Phipps’s close acquaintance with gin – a vice that she was actively attempting to overcome.

Mr and Mrs Phipps were the owners of the huge country mansion, and the hosts of this evening’s soiree, which had gone so horribly wrong – or right, depending on your point of view. One of their guests, Sylvia Pringle, was currently suffering from an adjustment in her facial complexion such that it almost matched the colour of her vivid emerald taffeta gown. Her husband, Mr Rolie Pringle paced up and down the length of the drawing room, wearing the expensive Persian rug (an antique from the Ottoman empire) thinner still on account of his heavy footfall.

Charlie Foxgrove was occupied with the emptying of his spent pipe ashes into the unlit open fire, deep in concentration, stopping now and then to puff out his cheeks and shake his head in a most forlorn manner. His wife, Tabitha Foxgrove cast sidelong glances about the room and fiddled with her pianist fingers, lacing them and unlacing them again, twirling the cushion cut diamond ring around on her wedding finger.

But worse, much worse was poor Amelia Badger. She had come to the soiree with her fiancé George Kippering, who, between the serving of the pheasant and the blancmange had toppled from his chair, quite dead.

“What we have established,” said the Inspector, is that Mr Kippering partook of the wild mushroom soup, the stuffed pheasant and, I’m quite sure based on appearances at least, would have enjoyed the raspberry blancmange, had he survived long enough.”
Amelia Badger sobbed loudly into her silk handkerchief.
“So, it is very clear to me,” continued the Inspector, “That Mr Kippering was, in fact, murdered.”
An audible gasp from each and every one of the assembled invitees and hosts.
“Murdered? Why, George Kippering had a heart condition!” exclaimed Charlie Foxgrove. “Surely the answer is quite obvious. The poor fellow simply ran out of heart beats.”
The inspector shook his head. “No, no, I am quite sure of it. Mr Kippering, God rest his soul, was poisoned.”
Another audible gasp, much higher in pitch than the previous.
“And yet,” continued the Inspector, “You will find no trace of poison about his person, nor in the dishes that your hosts have served you this evening. Only the food he ate and a snifter of brandy, that I believe Miss Pringle saw Mr Phipps giving to Mr Kippering upon his arrival, will you find in this gentleman’s belly and blood stream. I am familiar with this rare but rather effective modus operandi. In fact not more than five years ago, there was a similar case in Chipping Sodbury. Far less grand, of course.
The soup!” he exclaimed loudly, his moustache a quiver once more, “The soup killed him, my friends. And, being that Mr and Mrs Phipps are your hosts this evening, and that Mr Phipps plied the deceased with brandy before you sat down to your fine, but deadly feast, Mr Phipps is the killer!”

Solve it yourselfA laugh. A belly laugh from Mr Phipps.
“My good fellow. How looks can deceive. While you have the appearance of one so experienced and knowledgeable in the field of detection, it seems you are quite mistaken in this case. Why, all of the guests enjoyed exactly the same meal this evening. Surely if I had poisoned one of the dishes, each one of my guests would be dead. Indeed, all of the dishes came directly from the kitchen and were served by the staff from communal tureens and platters.”
“He is right.” This from Mr Foxgrove. “Mr Phipps sat next to me at supper, the opposite end of the table to Mr Kippering. He could not have reached over to poison his food even if he had tried.”
“The brandy!” cried Amelia Badger, and immediately returned to the business of sobbing.
“Nay my good lady,” responded the Inspector. “I may swig from the hip flask and while it may make me quite inebriated and sleep soundly, it will not kill me. It is not poisoned. No, no, I shall tell you how Mr Kippering came to his untimely and sorry end. Perhaps, Mr Phipps, you might pour me some of that brandy from your hip flask. I find myself recognising a spontaneous thirst.”

And, settling himself in a finely upholstered Queen Ann chair, the Inspector revealed all…


Read the solution here.

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