An Unaccountable Death

ON THIS RAINY TUESDAY, as on many other Tuesdays around noon, Thomas P. Stanwick, the amateur logician, called on his friend Inspector Matt Walker in the inspector’s tiny, cluttered office in Royston. Walker usually had a case or two on hand that he knew would pique the interest and exercise the particular talents of his friend. This day was no exception.

“We’ve got a shooting death on our hands, Tom,” said Walker, leaning back in his chair. “Herb Lombard, the manager of a small accounting firm in the Cummins Building, was found dead at his desk late yesterday afternoon. He may have shot himself, but we’re not sure.”

Stanwick idly fingered the tip of his mustache. “Who discovered the body?” he asked.

“A client of his named John Morey, who works in another office down the hall. Lombard was working on some late personal tax returns for him. Morey says he was leaving work yesterday, shortly after five, when he passed the door of Lombard’s firm and decided to see if Lombard was in. The clerks had already left the outer office, but light was shining from under the door of Lombard’s inner office.

“Morey knocked, opened the door, and found Lombard slumped over his desk in a puddle of blood with a revolver in his hand. Morey was so scared that, without touching anything in the room, he ran down to a pay phone in the lobby and called headquarters.

“I arrived a few minutes later and accompanied him back to Lombard’s inner office. Snapping on the light, I found everything just as Morey had described. Lombard had been dead for less than an hour, and had a bullet wound in his head. The revolver had been fired once.”

Stanwick shifted slightly in his chair.

“Poor devil,” he remarked. “Did Morey find the door to the outer office open?”

“No, but it had been left unlocked,” replied Walker.

“I see.” Stanwick looked grim. “You’d better arrest Morey at once, Matt. He’s lying about this affair!”

Why does Stanwick suspect Morey?

Scroll down for the answer.



Morey said that he had touched nothing after finding Lombard in his lit office, yet when Walker arrived he had to snap on the lights. Morey later confessed to killing Lombard after the accountant had found tax fraud and threatened blackmail.

Stan Smith was the author of three books of Stanwick mini-mysteries that have been published in nine languages and sold over 120,000 copies.

By Stan Smith