Coffee Break by Arthur Porges
Source: AH’s Tale to Make You Quake & Quiver
Story Number: 99
Sergeant Black has come to ask for the able assistance of Ulysses Price Middlebie, a former professor of the history and philosophy of science, but now a crime consultant. His problem to the professor – a locked room murder involving death due to poison!
Cyrus Denning, a 62 year old bachelor was supposed to have poisoned himself with cyanide in a locked room which was under constant observation. But Black’s instinct says that he was murdered. The murdered man was filthy rich, the only heir was with the murdered man half an hour before his death, the heir asked the boatman to keep a close eye on the door thereby getting himself an alibi for the crucial half hour and there was no suicide note. The professor explains away the locked bolt in a casual manner saying that it could’ve been locked using a high powered magnet from outside. But there are two other crucial factors that need to be explained: The coffee that contained cyanide was boiling hot when the door was forced open along with a newly lighted cigarette – giving an impression that the man was murdered just minutes before the door was broken in. If that was so, then how did the murderer get in and out of the tightly locked and guarded room?
Since Middlebie is no position to inspect the scene of the crime on his own two feet, he requests Black to take a lot of photographs inside the closed room and closely inspect the bolt on the door to make sure that it wasn’t an iron bolt. With the results of the analysis on the bolt and the photos, the professor propounds an interesting solution to this locked room problem!