Fun Thirteen at Dinner

Discussion in 'Amusement: Quizzes' started by Salzmank, May 8, 2017.

  1. Salzmank

    Salzmank Member: Rank 2

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    Here's another one I wrote: shorn of literary references this time, too!

    I hope you enjoy it.

    Again, all clues are contained within the narrative.
     
  2. Salzmank

    Salzmank Member: Rank 2

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    “Thirteen at Dinner”

    A Geoffrey Lord Mystery

    Unfortunately for the renown of Mr. Geoffrey Lord, the amateur sleuth who solved the mystery with ease, the strange business of the Thirteen Club was rather quickly hushed up, involving as it did a fine lot of some of the most prestigious members of New York society, who were behaving as children playing at pirate—or, at least, playing until the first murder occurred. That good-natured, white-haired Irishman, Insp. James O’Leary, known the world over as “Pop,” brought the matter to Geoff’s attention, and Geoff—always ready to help a friend in need—savored the challenge despite the constant sighs of none other than his own private Watson, amanuensis, secretary, and all-around girl Friday, the pert and lovely Miss Paula Vale.

    Sgt. Thaddeus Mack, the gentle giant with the absurd forename, was the first visitor at Geoff’s door on that wild-weathered day in April.

    “It’s like this, Maestro,” he shot out in gravelly tones: “one of these fellas has gotta be guilty, but the Inspector and I ’ll be damned—sorry, Miss Vale—if we can guess who it is.”

    Geoff, rising from the chair whence he was dictating his latest novel (The King of Diamonds Murder, you remember) to the ethereal Miss Vale, removed his spectacles and tapped his pipe on the table. “But, Sergeant,” he murmured, confused, “I’m still completely in the dark as to what happened, or even as to what this ‘Thirteen Club’ is.”

    “It’s a wonderful title for your next book, though, Geoff,” Paula put in, “as good as the title to this book—you know, the one we’re supposed to be working on.”

    “Hm, what? Oh, yes, of course, Paula. But…”
     
  3. Salzmank

    Salzmank Member: Rank 2

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    It was at that moment that Pop O’Leary entered the ever-bustling 87th St. apartment and shook off his drenched raincoat in the mudroom.

    “‘Cruelest month,’ indeed,” he muttered. After some customary pleasantries, he sat on the Lordian sofa which had been—er—graced by kings and presidents, come to consult the Great Man about some case that had meant the security of nations.

    “Miss Vale!” Geoff snapped, to which Paula only sighed, “Yes?” “Pen and pad ready?”

    “Naturally, Mr. Lord,” she replied, having to keep herself from giggling.

    “Well, Geoff, Miss Vale,” Pop started, warming his hands by the Lordian hearth, “the Thirteen Club—named to break the old superstition that it’s unlucky to have thirteen at dinner—is one of the most illustrious secret clubs in the City, made even more so by the fact that the entrance fee is…”

    Pop mentioned a figure that caused everyone’s ears to perk up.

    “The funny thing is, for this group of successful actors, businessmen, bankers, doctors, and lawyers, they’re not very bright as far as money is concerned.”

    Geoff said, “I wouldn’t expect it of actors—having known a few in my time—but the rest of them?”

    Pop nodded. “Not only that, but they’re so committed to their jobs that only a few of them married, and so each member of the Club decided, by and large, to will the majority of his fortune to the remaining members of the Club after he died…”

    “A Tontine, eh, Pop?” Geoff put in. He stole a glimpse at Paula’s eyes, which were large and sparkling, and made the excellent, accurate, and amusing deduction she had forgotten all about the book they were supposed to type out before.

    “Exactly. Bunch of fools, if y’ask me… Anyhoo, it seems that the Tontine will plan has backfired: the members of the Thirteen Club have ended up as unlucky after all. They seem to be killing each other for the money.”
     
  4. Salzmank

    Salzmank Member: Rank 2

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    “That’s terrible!” cried the innocent Miss Vale. “Geoff, we have to stop it before someone else is killed!”

    Geoff put his arm around her. “What’s happened so far?”

    “Four of the members have already kicked the bucket,” Sgt. Mack’s voice grated. “Milton Jackson, Jonathan Adams, and Fred Miller were each found at their apartments, shot through the head. Same gun according to the ballistics, Maestro.”

    “But you said four, Sergeant. Who’s the fourth?”

    O’Leary looked at Paula, then said, “George Johnson, the writer, was shot today in his living room; his wife and housekeeper were away, but, when Mrs. Johnson returned, she found her husband lying there and called an ambulance. He was rushed to the hospital and rallied for a while—Mack here was able to get there as he regained consciousness—but the docs weren’t able to save him in the long run. He died just about an hour before we got here.”

    “The poor man,” Paula murmured softly.

    Geoff said, “Any clues, Pop?”

    “Besides the ballistics, just two—no fingerprints on the gun or around the apartment, worse luck. Mack, you tell Mr. Lord what you heard before Johnson died.”

    “Well,” said the giant, “I only hears a few words, at the end, before he’s gone—y’know?”

    “Yes?”

    “Johnson laughed to himself, Maestro, and spit out, ‘He’s the only one not part of it.’”

    Geoff rose and stared at the fire for a good minute. “‘He’s the only one not part of it’! Oh, Heaven, I’ve dealt with some difficult dying clues in my time, but this one beats all the others!” He broke off. “You said there were two clues.”
     
  5. Salzmank

    Salzmank Member: Rank 2

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    “That’s right, Geoff,” O’Leary responded, “but I can’t imagine what the other one has to do with anything. It was on Johnson’s desk—must have been working on it when he was shot—but it was just a list of names, the members of the club.”

    “Do you have it?”

    They did indeed, and Geoff saw exactly that—a list of names. Other than the three men Pop had mentioned earlier, and Johnson himself, there were Laurence Marsden and Hal Quincy, the actors; Ken Flaherty and Bruce Nalley, the politicians; Pete Jeffers and Walter Davis, the bankers; the two Theodores, Ted Alton and Theodore Smith (the one a lawyer and the other a retired ad executive); and, last but not least, Leo Oscar, the grocery-store entrepreneur.

    It was a long while that Geoff considered those names and said nothing. He was obviously deep in thought, going through every possible permutation of the...

    “Of course,” Geoffrey Lord muttered to himself. “How simple.”

    “Oh, yes,” sighed Miss Vale. “How very simple.”

    “Hm?”

    “Well, I see the pattern too, Geoff. I’m just agreeing with you that it’s so simple.”

    “We certainly ain’t seein’ it!”—this from a disgruntled Sgt. Mack.

    “Ah!” said the Great Man. “Well, you go first, Paula.”

    “Thank you, Geoff,” said the fair Paula. “The murderer is…”
     
  6. Salzmank

    Salzmank Member: Rank 2

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    CHALLENGE TO THE READER

    Who is the murderer?

    How did Geoffrey Lord know?

    What was the meaning of George Johnson’s dying words?
     
  7. Nick91

    Nick91 Member: Rank 2

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    I'll try my luck with this one...

    Since we don't know much about these 13 people, besides their names and professions, I think the solution will have something to do with some kind of pattern based on the letters of their names. Sort of like the previous murder mystery.

    Just so that I understand the concept of the Tontine, the majority of Milton Jackson's (presumably the first victim) money was split and distributed evenly among the 12 other members? And after Jonathan Adam's murder, the majority of his money was split and distributed evenly among the remaining 11 members, and so forth? I wonder if the murders were committed in ascending order from poorest to richest? The higher amount at stake, the less you'd want to share it with. On second thought, if the murderer's goal is to eventually kill all 12 members, then I suppose it doesn't matter which order he kills them in. Not that this line of reasoning has any bearing on the case, just "thinking aloud" here.

    Now, as for George Johnson's last words, I doubt it refers to someone who isn't part of the Tontine (or even the 13 Club). The incentive to kill wouldn't be there if that were the case. There must be some commonality among the 12 members that distinguishes them from the 13th. But what? Well, Theodore Smith is the only one who is described as retired, so maybe he wanted a way to fill up his bank account without having to come out of retirement? Nah, that can't be it.

    Let me have a closer look at the names:

    1. Milton Jackson
    2. Jonathan Adams
    3. Fred Miller
    4. George Johnson
    5. Laurence Marsden
    6. Hal Quincy
    7. Ken Flaherty
    8. Bruce Nalley
    9. Pete Jeffers
    10. Walter Davis
    11. Ted Alton
    12. Theodore Smith
    13. Leo Oscar

    Hmm. The names are all fairly common, and nothing appears to really stand out from the rest. The thing about the number 12 is that a clock display consists of exactly 12 hours. I'll see if I can find anything meaningful through that. Maybe every name is the equivalent to a specific hour of the day?
     
  8. Salzmank

    Salzmank Member: Rank 2

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    Your deductions about the pattern are all correct so far, Nick. (These are really less murder mysteries and more riddles, in the form of murder mysteries.)

    And, yes, you have the concept of the Tontine right.

    It's not a clock, but you're on the right track, I'd say... :)
     
  9. Salzmank

    Salzmank Member: Rank 2

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    That reminds me, Nick, one of these days I'm going to have to write a full-fledged whodunit based on the the Sleuth songs!
     
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  10. Nick91

    Nick91 Member: Rank 2

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    Solved it now. :)
    After the disappointment of it having nothing to do with clocks, I went back to the "drawing board" and glanced through the list again. I stopped at Laurence Marsden because it suddenly hit me: "Mars" means "March" (the month, that is) in my language, and since there are 12 months in a year, I've figured it out now.

    Basically, 12 of the 13 Club member have a last name that starts with a letter that a month also starts with. For example, Flaherty starts with an "f", which corresponds to February. Hal Quincy, the actor, is the guilty one. Never trust a Hollywood film star, is the moral of the story here!

    Again, thanks for the murder mystery riddle. Since I've put everything in spoilers, perhaps others will be tempted to solve it after me?
     
    • Bravo! Bravo! x 2
    #10 Nick91, May 14, 2017
    Last edited: May 15, 2017
  11. Nick91

    Nick91 Member: Rank 2

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    Haha, that would make an excellent story, Salzmank! I like the irony of a mystery-themed movie being the source of another mystery altogether. I wonder, what if the singer was murdered shortly afterwards to silence him for whatever reason and they erased him from the cast list swiftly? Remember the Lenin-Trotsky photo manipulation? Completely wiped out of the picture by Stalin, like he never even existed. I may be reading too much into this!
     
  12. Salzmank

    Salzmank Member: Rank 2

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    Excellent work there, and congratulations! You're very good with these.

    By the way--mars. Are you French, Nick? That's the only language I know in which mars is the word for the third month. I ask only because I can speak a smattering of French, though I've been trying to pick up some Italian as well.

    I similarly hope that someone else will be tempted to solve it, as you say. Open to everyone, of course!
     
  13. Nick91

    Nick91 Member: Rank 2

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    It's a good guess, but no, I'm not French. Although I did study it in school for six years and can understand the basics of it. When you pick up words and sentences from other languages, is it usually through literature, films or perhaps travelling abroads?

    Considering that this is a detective-themed thread in a film-related discussion forum, I feel it's suitable that I reveal my nationality with the following clue: An actor from my country used to play a fairly well-known detective character in several Hollywood films during the 1930s.
     
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  14. Salzmank

    Salzmank Member: Rank 2

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    Well... That was my second guess. ;)

    Seriously, though, it was your reference to that detective character that gave it away. I'm a big fan of that character--I wonder if anyone would be interested in a poll for favorite films of that character? I started one at a different forum.

    As for your question, I studied French in school as well and remember the basics from that; I also have a friend from Québec who keeps me on my toes with remembering the language (though she, being Québécoise, complains about my Parisian accent--better than an American accent while speaking French, I suppose!). Also I'm going to be in Paris in a few months; I do love travelling, as you say, so there's that as well.
     
  15. Nick91

    Nick91 Member: Rank 2

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    Absolutely, feel free to start any type of poll. I personally haven't seen enough CC movies to create a meaningful ranking yet, so I would have to abstain from voting for the time being. But they seem to have a lot of those uploaded on Youtube, so that could change fast.
     

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