Friday, September 30, 2016

"The Next Time You Leave a Name As a Clue to Throw Suspicion You'd Better Get the Name Right"

Can you solve a mystery in one minute? Can anyone? Optimistic radio program producers thought so:
The Five [Minute] Mysteries Program is an audience participation radio series broadcast on the Mutual Broadcasting System August 10, 1947 – March 27, 1950. In 1947-48 it aired on Sundays at 2 p.m. . . . While the premise was simple, the mysteries were well written, requiring some thought to come up with the right answer. Similar to the Ellery Queen's Minute Mysteries, one listened to the story, evaluated the clues, and at the conclusion, matched wits with the sleuths to correctly identify the suspect. It was one of the few interactive radio shows. — Wikipedia (HERE)
Here are the scripts and audio recordings of three episodes of The Five Minute Mysteries program; you might want to listen as you read along—but be fair: At the commercial break you should stop reading and listening and try to solve it . . . as a kind of do-it-yourself Ellery Queenian Challenge to the Reader/Listener.

(1) "Murder of Mrs. Brooks" (a.k.a. "Three Scarlet Letters"):
"Apparently Mrs. Brooks was sitting here in this chair putting red polish on her fingernails when she was shot from behind. The polish has spilled all over the carpet and she was still holding the tiny brush in her hand. She must have recognized her attacker and since she did not die instantly she printed these three initials here on the floor with the polish. D-O-C."
     Script (HERE) . . . Audio (HERE) and (HERE).

(2) "My Pal Patsy":
". . . nowadays in this murder racket you need a college education!"
     Script (HERE) . . . Audio (HERE) and (HERE).

(3) "Death Calls at Dinner":
"Black? Let me see it. The only spoon that's tarnished, too. Well, I was beginning to think it was a heart attack or a perfect murder!"
     Script (HERE) . . . Audio (HERE) and (HERE).

- Another installment, "Blind Confession" (a.k.a. "Prison Murder"), has been animated for YouTube (HERE).
- Several dozen episodes of the program are at (HERE).

The bottom line: "Radio is the theater of the mind; television is the theater of the mindless."
Steve Allen

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