The Sapphire That Disappeared by James Holding

by Arun

Theme: Authors from the pages of AHMM

Source: Alfred Hitchcock’s A Hearse Of A Different Color

Story Number: 90

Laurie and John from the famous firm of Private Detectives ‘Landis & Landis’ are enjoying their holiday in Buenos Aires when they are asked to solve the problem of the missing Sapphire by the store owner Quesada.

The store had only two customers when the Sapphire went missing – a Mrs. Thompson and a Mr. Ortega. Thompson is looking for aquamarine necklaces where as Ortega is looking for  a suitable gift for his wife and requests to see some uncut stones. The clerk, on his way back to show Ortega the gems, trips over and spills a lot of stones on the carpeted floor and the stones are quickly retrieved by the store employees. But one valuable stone is found missing. The big Sapphire which would stand out on the dark carpet is nowhere to be found in the edgeless circular room. Both the customers are searched thoroughly and they are let go only after confirming that they didn’t have the stone on them or on their clothes. The only clue turns out to be a discarded bubble gum wrapper – but no one was chewing any gum nor was any gum found anywhere in the store.

Laurie and John exchange a series of hypotheses as to how the Sapphire could have disappeared but each one of them turns out to have already been verified with no result. They know that Ortega must be the guilty party and that a wad of gum was somehow involved but  how he managed to use the gum and hide the Sapphire remains a mystery.  The couple stumble across the vital clue when John bumps into a blind man after existing one of the Buenos Aires subway trains. A simple solution which is neatly done and fairly clued.

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