Wednesday, May 11, 2016

"I Never Could Figure Out These Locked-room Things"

"Really It Was Quite Simple."
By Evelyn E. Smith (1922-2000).
First appearance: EQMM, May 1953.
Reprinted in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine (UK), May 1953.
Short short story (5 pages).
Online at SFFAudio HERE (PDF).
"And that was all you did? And here I've been looking for some devilishly ingenious and complicated scheme."
When Colonel Whikehart, for whom travel has obviously been broadening, makes a wager with Sir Odo claiming he can pull off a locked room mystery, there will be a loser; after finishing this story, however, some readers may feel they're the ones who've lost the bet. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

Principal characters:
~ Biestleigh:
   "Why, when I read a thriller, I never understand precisely how the murderer did it, even when it's carefully explained in pages and pages at the end."
~ Sir Odo:
   "Anyhow, those locked room affairs are utterly preposterous. Wouldn't work in reality."
~ Colonel Whikehart:
   "Oh, I don't know. I'll lay you a fiver that I can shut myself up in a room with young Biestleigh here; and, at the end of ten minutes, you can come, find all the doors and windows — except the one you come in by, of course — locked, young Biestleigh dead, and no sign of me."
~ Pottridge:
   "Lot of tosh."

- Evelyn E. Smith was primarily a science fiction writer: Wikipedia HERE, the SFE HERE, and the ISFDb HERE; some of her best short SF is available on Project Gutenberg HERE and SFF Audio HERE.
- "Really It Was Quite Simple" appears to be her only submission to EQMM to see publica-tion, but she did have a popular mystery series "which," according to Wikipedia, "chronicles the exploits of a middle-aged socialite-turned-assassin":

Miss Melville Mysteries:
    1. Miss Melville Regrets (1986):
    2. Miss Melville Returns (1987):
    3. Miss Melville's Revenge (1989)
    4. "Miss Melville Rejoices" (1991) (short story)
    5. Miss Melville Rides a Tiger (1991):
    6. Miss Melville Runs for Cover (1993)

The bottom line:
   Tenkaichi: "You know, I'm just getting fed up with all these old tricks. Nonetheless, locked-room murders keep on popping up. Why do you think that is?"
   Fuji: "Who knows?"
   Tenkaichi: "That's because 'locked-room murder' is the king of all tricks."
   — Meitantei no Okite

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