The Haunted Tree House

For Jonah and his friends, the one sure sign of spring was the opening of the tree house. It had been built in the fork of a huge oak in the Smiths’ backyard. For the past four summers, Sally Smith, Bill Tollbar, Lisa Valdez, and Jonah had convened there almost daily to play games and…

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After-School Homicide

Detective Peter Pauling glanced up from his paperwork and was surprised to see a boy with a backpack standing in front of his desk. “Jonah! Hi.” He checked a nearby wall clock. “Is it six o’clock already? How was band practice?” “Pretty good,” said Jonah. “Is my mom around?” Jonah Bixby’s school was directly across…

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The Last Poker Hand

A homicide sergeant stood in the hotel suite, gazing down at the body of Bugsy Ferret. “He was a card sharp,” the sergeant told the hotel manager. “Bugsy preyed on tourists. He’d lure them to a hotel, start a friendly poker game, and take them to the cleaners. I guess someone came back this time…

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Postgraduate Murder

The time of death was firmly established. At 10:06 P.M. all three suspects said they heard a gunshot echo through the house. The house was shared by four graduate students; three, if you no longer counted Harry Harris, the victim who lay in his second-story bedroom, a bullet in his chest. Harry, it seemed, had…

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Archie’s Christmas Surprise

“Mr. Granger?” The secretary tried to speak calmly into the receiver. “This is Emily. Could you come down to the nineteenth floor? It’s sort of an emergency.” Emily hung up. It was an emergency, all right. Archie Tatum, their chief financial officer, was in his office, hanging by a rope from an extremely strong light…

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Who Killed Santa Claus?

It was midnight on Christmas Eve when the maintenance staff of Kimble’s came to work in the deserted department store. When they arrived at the North Pole display, they discovered every child’s worst nightmare, the lifeless body of Santa Claus. He was in a storage room, his head bashed in by the butt end of…

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The Stolen Cleopatra

The silent alarm announced a break-in at the home of Jordan Marsh, the famous collector. When a patrolman arrived, he found two men waiting for him in the backyard of Marsh’s suburban home, standing by a broken window. “My name’s Digby Dunne,” the first man said. “Jordan’s next-door neighbor. I caught this man red-handed, breaking…

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The Queen Glendora Photos

“Your regular two o’clock appointment is here,” came the secretary’s voice over the intercom. Alicia Bonwit looked up from her cluttered desk. “What? Is it Wednesday already? I don’t have time.” Then she got a glimpse of her frazzled hair in the mirror. “Well, perhaps I’ll make time. Send them in.” The team trooped into…

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The Coach’s Last Play

Juliet Bricker watched as her husband dawdled over his Saturday morning breakfast. “What’s wrong, dear?” Coach Bricker could never hide anything from Juliet. “It’s one of my star players. I found out the boy’s involved with gamblers. Maybe he’s not trying to throw games, but it’s still enough to get him suspended and ruin his…

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High-Rise Homicide

Helen Blain said good afternoon to Morty the doorman as she walked into the lobby and took the elevator up to her fifth-floor apartment. The time was 3:55. At 4 p.m. sharp Morty’s telephone rang. “Help,” a man’s voice gurgled. “Stabbed. 503.” Then the weak voice fell silent. Apartment 503. That was Xavier Kuralt, the…

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Looking for a Lookout

On a January night, one of the coldest of the new year, a foot patrolman was making his rounds of the downtown storefronts when a hissing cat ran past him into a nearby alley. Officer Greeley glanced after it, and the beam of a roaming flashlight caught his eye. It was coming from inside the…

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The Suicidal House Guest

Doctor Paul Yancy tiptoed out of the sickroom, closing the door behind him. “Uncle Ben needs peace and quiet,” he told his brother and sister-in-law. “The flu has left him weak and depressed. But the old man should make a full recovery.” “Thank goodness,” replied Fritz with as much sincerity as he could muster. Uncle…

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The Smuggler and the Clever Wife

A Mexican border guard was talking to his wife over his cell phone when he accidentally pulled in a fragment of a static-filled conversation between a man and a woman. “I’ll be waiting in Tecate at noon for your regular Monday shipment,” said the man. “You don’t think the border guards are getting wise?” “No,”…

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Death of a Deceiver

Mona Fisher turned and gazed at Jerry, sleeping next to her on the plane. Her eyes wandered down to his wedding band. She still couldn’t believe she was married to such a catch. Their flight from Acapulco landed late that night. The next morning, February 10, Jerry Fisher shoveled the snow from the driveway, kissed…

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Friends at the Office

Homicide Detective Gilson was visiting his accountant in a small, seedy office building when he heard noises coming from above. First there were angry voices. Then came a scream, followed by a heavy thud. Gilson excused himself and raced up the stairs. On the next floor, he found an open door. Wiley Kline, a low-rent…

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Agent Brown’s Shining Moment

A black Cadillac tore around the busy street corner, barely slowing as it approached the steps of the courthouse. The tinted, passenger-side window rolled down and a semi-automatic handgun poked its barrel out. Pauly Gillespie, mob informant and federally protected witness, stood frozen in his tracks, his worst fears looking like a definite possibility. Pauly’s…

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The Taunting Clue

Sherman felt honored. He’d had no idea the police commissioner even knew he existed. And now, not only was he at headquarters actually meeting the head man, but Commissioner Lowry was asking him for advice. “Sergeant Wilson says you’ve helped him on one or two cases. Perhaps you can give us a fresh viewpoint on…

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The Missing Link

“This is a first,” Wilson said with a bemused smile. “A guy with a bathroom in his office.” “This new office came with Mr. Seaver’s recent promotion,” explained Lisa, the dead man’s secretary. She was young and tall and solidly built, in a modest skirt and blouse. “The workmen just finished putting in the bathroom…

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The Call Not Taken

Amy didn’t have a lot of girlfriends, and the few girlfriends she had…  Well, they all had a talent for drama.  Amy didn’t like drama.  That’s why, when the phone rang after a hard day at the travel agency, when Amy saw that Marta was calling again, yet again, she let it go into voicemail….

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Death of a Swinger

“We had an abandoned quarry like this back home.” Despite the tragic scene, Sherman couldn’t repress a smile. “The local swimming hole. I remember being a kid and swinging on a rope, Tarzan-style, just like this poor fellow.” His wistful tone contrasted sharply with the bloody, broken body just in front of him. The deceased…

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Amy and the Speed Bumps

There were days when Amy was totally in love and couldn’t wait for Marcus Alvarez to get more serious.  And there were days like today, when Amy was fed up with her irresponsible boyfriend and his killer smile.  Actually, there were no days quite like today, for Amy had become so fed up that she…

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Them’s the Brakes

It was a balmy, late summer evening. Sergeant Wilson examined the mangled body in the driver’s seat, exchanging a few words with his forensics crew. When he finally trudged up the side of the ravine to the break in the railing, he was only slightly surprised to find Sherman Holmes pulling his antique Bentley into…

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Mrs. Krenshaw’s Spare Key

“I hate to bother you, Mr. Holmes.” Sherman’s neighbor, Mrs. Krenshaw, led him across the street from his house to hers, a tidy Victorian gem set in the pristine white of a recent snowfall. The elderly widow was remarkably self-sufficient and walked with a strong, confident gait. “I know I ought to go to the…

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The Ring-Stealing Ring

The teenagers sat around the bare table in the small, bare room. All three chewed and snapped their gum and looked sullen. Sherman Holmes and Zach Alban, the jewelry store owner, stood by helplessly, watching the two boys and the girl as all of them continued to wait for the police. Zach led Sherman out…

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Big Daddy Brown

Sherman Holmes had been born and raised in Alabama and, despite his mania for Victorian England, had a deep, true affection for the American South. About once a year, usually on a warm spring weekend, he would gas up his antique Bentley and make the long pilgrimage back home. Sherman himself was an orphan, but…

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The Poker from Nowhere

Sherman Holmes and Sergeant Wilson stood side by side. They were staring at a bloody corpse sprawled face up in the living room of a suburban tract house. Sherman spoke first. “A premeditated crime, what ho?” Wilson frowned. “What makes you say that?” “Choice of weapon.” The round little man pointed at the fireplace poker….

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Blue Carbuncle, The Sequel

Once a year, on his birthday, Sherman Holmes threw a dinner party. The cream of Capital City’s eccentrics would gather in his large, comfortable home, along with neighbors and other friends, to eat and drink and laugh. At this year’s celebration, after everyone else had left, Sherman and his three last guests sat over brandies…

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A Halloween Homicide

Sherman loved Halloween. It gave him a chance to dress up as Sherlock Holmes and still seem normal. The pudgy detective was in his usual costume, escorting a squadron of children down Elm Street, when he noticed a crowd gathering in front of old Miss Cleghorn’s house. “She must be up to her usual,” chortled…

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The Lost Etruscan Find

Sergeant Gunther Wilson rolled the library ladder over the shards of glass and water, then climbed to the top rung. “This skylight must be how the thief got in,” he said, pointing to the smashed skylight and the rope dangling down into the room from a crossbeam. “Forensics can use this ladder to dust for…

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All in the Family

Sergeant Wilson enjoyed an occasional breakfast with Sherman at the Baker Street Coffee Shop. What he didn’t enjoy were the homicide calls that so often came right in the middle of the meal. He was just finishing his Belgian waffle with fruit when this morning’s call took him to Gleason & Son Insurance, located on…

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An Alarming Jewel Heist

“Maybe now you’ll stop bugging me,” Zach Alban said as Sherman walked into his friend’s shop. “See? I got that alarm system you recommended, wired straight to the police station.” “It’s about time,” Sherman replied. Alban Jewelers had just expanded its business and finally had some jewels worth stealing. “Mr. Alban, I’m leaving now.” Ricky…

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The Commercial Break Break-In

An inch of snow fell that evening, turning to a crusty sleet that hardened and made everything beautiful and treacherous. When the skies cleared, Sherman went for a stroll. “What ho, Trent! A quiet night, eh?” Sherman waved to the uniformed guard hired to patrol the neighborhood. “A little too quiet.” Tom Trent was naturally…

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The Doc’s Last Lunch

Sergeant Wilson hated stakeouts. Here he was, stuck alone in a first-floor apartment, photographing the comings and goings at the home of a suspected hit man across the street. And it was a beautiful day outside, which just made things worse. Wilson heard the door to his own apartment building close and glanced outside to…

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The Wayward Will

Sherman Holmes signed his name to the will and then watched as Harmon Grove signed as the other witness. “Thanks for dropping over — again,” the congenial lawyer said as he slipped the will into his briefcase. “The Fielding kids can’t be witnesses because they inherit.” “Not a problem,” Sherman replied. This was the fourth…

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Bell, Booke or Kendal?

“My regrets, Wilson. I have no idea who killed him.” “What?” Sergeant Wilson thought he would never hear Sherman Holmes say those words. He wasn’t too happy about it, either. “Okay, okay, calm down.” Wilson sounded close to panic himself. “Mr. Boren, maybe you should review the facts.” Sherman and the sergeant were in the…

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The Pointing Corpse

When the detective business was slow, the great Sherlock Holmes had spent the long, empty hours playing the violin. Sherman Holmes did the same, but with less soothing results. “Maybe I should take lessons,” he would think as he sawed back and forth across the strings. When things got really slow, Sherman switched on one…

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The Crystal Vanishes

Luther brought a new pot of coffee into the dining room and began refreshing everyone’s cup. “Agatha, is that the crystal ball you were telling us about?” “Isn’t it gorgeous!” The young woman in the flowing robe held it up for all to see, a round piece of cut crystal, not much larger than a…

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The Unsafe Safe House

For all the help Sherman Holmes provided the police, he received little if any recognition. In fact, the officers he helped the most were often the first to make fun of his quirky personality. “They don’t want people thinking some amateur is solving their eases,” Sherman would say with a generous shrug. “I just wish…

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Foul Ball Burglary

Sherman Holmes sat on a park bench, watching as the neighborhood boys played a pick-up game of baseball. “I should retrieve my great-great-grandfather’s bat and teach those lads the art of cricket,” the amateur detective thought, then realized he didn’t know how to play it himself. “Oh, well,” he sighed. “The lads are awfully close…

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The Pretenders’ Ball — Episode 4

For three years running, the rebels had struck during the Grand Duchy’s annual costume ball. Yet even after two assassinations and a disastrous fire, the prime minister felt obligated not to cancel. The event was held at the old venue, the ducal palace, and, in honor of the past tragedies, the theme was black, with…

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The Pretenders’ Ball — Episode 3

Two years ago, the Pretenders’ Ball had been the scene of an assassination. Last year, an arsonist destroyed the royal archives. These political crimes, carried out by the rebel forces, were becoming a regular part of the Grand Duchy’s annual costume ball. The Chief of Police pleaded with the Prime Minister to cancel this year’s…

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The Pretenders’ Ball — Episode 2

Last year’s Pretenders’ Ball had ended in the tragic assassination of the Grand Duke. Despite that disaster, the prime minister insisted on going ahead with this year’s festivities. One new concession was made to security. The Ball would be held during the day, giving the secret police a clearer view of the proceedings. A bright,…

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The Pretenders’ Ball

The secret police warned the prime minister to cancel the Pretenders’ Ball. But the costume ball was a 200-year-old tradition in the small Grand Duchy. Despite threats from the rebels, the annual celebration had to take place as scheduled. The prime minister made a handful of concessions to security. The peg-legged pirate had his sword…

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Archie’s Christmas Surprise

“Mr. Granger?” The secretary tried to speak calmly into the receiver. “This is Emily. Could you come down to the nineteenth floor? It’s sort of an emergency.” Emily hung up. It was an emergency, all right. Archie Tatum, their chief financial officer, was in his office, hanging by a rope from an extremely strong light…

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The Postman Rings Once

Sergeant Wilson found the letter and envelope torn up and crammed into the bottom of a wastebasket. Reassembling it while wearing plastic gloves proved difficult. “It’s from Henry Liggit’s lawyer,” he finally said, looking up from the jigsaw-like puzzle. “It outlines Mr. Liggit’s proposed new will, disinheriting his three nephews and leaving everything to charity.”…

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Bus Station Bomber!

“Where have you been?” Sergeant Wilson stepped around the burned and mangled debris of what had been the rear wall of the Capital City bus terminal. “I thought you must be sick.” Gunther Wilson was secretly dependent on Sherman Holmes’s habit of showing up uninvited at crime scenes. He certainly wasn’t used to waiting three…

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A Maze of Suspects

Sherman Holmes was out for a drive on a lonely country road. He saw the police car and the sign for the labyrinth maze at almost the same moment. “A labyrinth puzzle plus a crime,” he chuckled, stepping on the brakes. “How lovely.” He switched on his turn signal and pulled off into the parking…

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The Missing Monet

Sherman Holmes didn’t know how he did it; but he did, and on a regular basis. Sometimes he’d see a police cruiser and stop to see what was happening. Sometimes he’d follow the sound of a siren. More often than not, he would just be walking or driving around Capital City when a sixth sense…

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Death of a Diva

With his plastic gloves on, Sergeant Wilson lifted the victim’s head from the make-up table and gently turned it. “Was she from India?” he asked, a note of confusion in his voice. Pressed into the middle of the woman’s forehead was a glittering red dot. Sherman Holmes examined the dot. “No.” He almost chuckled. “That’s…

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Message from the Grave

A towel had been wedged underneath the door, so it took more than a little effort to push it open. “Hold your breath,” Sergeant Wilson said to the men behind him as he pushed his way into the bedroom. Directly behind him was a team of paramedics. They rushed to the man lying by the…

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Blackmail Can Be Deadly

Sherman was angry and fully prepared to yell at someone. This morning he’d heard that the post office was issuing a new stamp, celebrating the career of his great-great grandfather. That would have been wonderful news, quite wonderful indeed, except that the new Sherlock Holmes stamp was to be part of a series commemorating fictional…

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Sherman on the Scene

“You’re the crime scene technician?” Sherman asked the slovenly, middle-aged man who had just arrived at the front door of the murder site. “May I see some I.D?” The man was dressed in a police windbreaker and carried a crime kit. He flipped open his wallet and showed the laminated identification. It was a well-worn…

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Home Office Homicide

“Very neatly dressed,” Sherman observed as the medical examiner gently turned the body face up and began a preliminary examination. The victim was wearing a dark, custom-made suit with a fresh rosebud in his lapel. The only thing marring the outfit was the gash left by the silver letter opener that had been placed in…

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The Moriarty Note

“You’re not really a believer, are you?  Agatha stared deeply into Sherman’s eyes. “Not really,” the little detective admitted somewhat sheepishly. “But I do enjoy our evenings together.” “That’s the most important thing,” Luther said as he started clearing the dinner table. “We enjoy your company, too,” added Grimelda, helping Luther with the plates. “Although…

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The Voicemail Alibi

The cute little coupe was parked off to the side of the country road just steps from a scenic waterfall. The contents of the car were neither cute nor scenic. A young woman sat in the driver’s seat, her bloody head lolling out the open window. Sherman Holmes examined the bullet hole behind her ear….

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Murder Comes Gift-Wrapped

There was something nice about old skyscrapers, he thought, especially during the holiday season. Detective Dan Tolinger paused in the lobby of the Prell Building to admire the huge wreaths. Sergeant Pulaski wouldn’t mind waiting a few extra seconds. Neither would the two patrolmen. Neither would the corpse. Tolinger stepped out on the 27th floor…

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Not For Sale

Sherman parked his antique Bentley by the edge of the road, fascinated by the sight in front of him. True, the houses were not unusual, four comfort­able residences built around a leafy cul-de-sac. The part Sherman found so fascinating was the signs on the lawns. The house on the right was graced with a real…

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Who Killed Santa Claus?

It was midnight on Christmas Eve when the maintenance staff of Kimble’s Department Store came to work.  When they arrived at the North Pole display, they discovered every child’s worst nightmare, the lifeless body of Santa Claus.  He was found in a storage room, his head bashed in by the butt end of a .44…

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Crime at Criminy Woods

Once every autumn, Sherman Holmes went home to Alabama. There he would spend the better part of a week visiting his childhood friends and then, for another few days, go off by himself and rent a cabin in the woods. This was his annual attempt to forget crime and return to nature, although he did…

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Yes, Sir, That’s My Bomb

Sherman sat in Sergeant Wilson’s homey but clut­tered office reviewing a recent murder case, now closed. The sergeant was about to release a statement to the press and wanted to be sure he fully understood the brilliant deduction that he had supposedly made to solve it. “Excuse me? Are you Sergeant Wilson?” A young, expensively…

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What the Killer Forgot

Despite all the pleasures of crime solving and despite all the hours he spent with the police, Sherman Holmes was never comfortable in police stations. So late one evening, when Sergeant Wilson suggested they meet at Precinct House #5, Sherman found himself pacing nervously in the station’s vestibule, just outside the lobby, waiting for his…

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Door-to-Door Homicide

Sergeant Gunther Wilson had been at the crime scene for over an hour when he finally heard the roar of the antique Bentley pulling up to the small suburban house. “It’s about time,” he yelled out the open front door. As Sherman Holmes walked up the front path, he couldn’t make out what Wilson was…

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Murder Works Weekends

Wilson and Holmes were enjoying a Saturday breakfast at the Baker Street Coffee Shop when the call came in. “Murder on a weekend?” Sergeant Wilson muttered between bites of his cheese omelet. “What’s this world coming to?” They arrived at the law offices of Wynn, Loose, and Draw to find Chester Wynn sprawled on his…

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Wilson Wins One

Zach Albans has the worst luck,” Sherman sighed as Sergeant Wilson pulled into a parking space in front of the store. The sign on the roof proclaiming Albans Jewelers had just been installed this morning. The shop wasn’t even open for business and it had already been robbed. Zach Albans rushed out to greet them….

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Crime in Record Time

Sherman tossed and turned, unable to sleep. Part of the reason might have been the strange envi­ronment. He was spending the weekend in the country with Howard and Joey Myers, two bachelor brothers who owned a local restaurant. Part of the reason might have been the lumpy sofa bed in the living room that Sherman…

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Found Money

Once a week, Sherman had lunch at the Baskerville, a delicatessen not far from his home. On this afternoon, a sunny Wednesday in June, he walked up to the counter and ordered his usual ham and Swiss sandwich. As he paid, he couldn’t help noticing that Irene, the cashier, seemed distracted. “Something’s afoot,” he muttered,…

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The Hostess Stumbles

Sherman was a morning person, even on weekend trips.  On this particular Sunday, he had done his morning exercises, shaved and showered, and then raided his hostess’s kitchen, all before eight a.m. He opened a new gallon of milk, poured himself a full glass, and retired to the dining room. He was just taking a…

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Murder on Vacation

Since Sherman didn’t have a job, he didn’t much bother with vacations. But this summer, the amateur detective decided to leave the crime of Capital City in the hands of the police and drove himself to the seaside resort of Brighton, where he traded in his tweed frock coat for a tweed bathing suit. He…

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THE HALLOWEEN DEVIL

The rain had ended in the afternoon, leaving a chilly but clear evening for the trick-or-treaters.  As usual, Sherman donned his full Sherlock Holmes regalia and milled among the costumed youngsters on the street. Sherman was at his very happiest on Halloween. It was growing late and he was just passing a vacant lot when…

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A Country Crime

“This is why I’m a city boy,” Sergeant Wilson said peevishly as he started picking hundreds of burrs off his pant legs. He and Sherman had just walked across an unplowed, bramble-choked field to arrive at the murder scene, the grassy bank of a river that separated two neighboring farms. “I suppose we could have…

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The British Maid

It was a spring afternoon when Sherman Holmes’s sixth sense led him down Main Street, and then left into an alley. Quickly, he realized he was approaching the rear of his favorite restaurant, The British Maid. “Good. As soon as I solve whatever bit of crime is waiting for me here, I’ll make a reservation.”…

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Fanny Solves One

On a Sunday spring afternoon, for the first time in months, Amy and her mother sat out on their back patio, sipping iced tea and gazing into the garden, a hidden gem guarded on all sides by a few dozen similar brownstones. It was one of the few communal gardens left in New York, carved…

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The Call Not Taken

An Abel Adventure Mystery Amy didn’t have a lot of girlfriends, and the few she had…  Well, they all had a talent for drama.  Amy didn’t like drama.  That’s why, when the phone rang after a hard day at the travel agency, when she saw that Marta was calling again, yet again, she let it…

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