Ten Clues for Mr. Polkinghorn by Charlotte Armstrong
Source: EQ’s Lethal Black Book
Story Number: 97
Polkinghorn is a mystery writer who calls in the police to report strange signs of life in his neighboring house which to be vacant for a period of 10 days. 3 convicts had escaped the prison a few days back and 2 out of them were supposed to have drowned. But the police are yet to track down the third person and the problem for them is they don’t know who among the three survived! And they suspect that this third escapee was occupying the empty house before he fled.
Polkinghorn tells the police that he could help them if they could tell him about these escaped convicts. When he gets the description of the three men – an Italian with only one foot, a New York man named Sparrow with grey hair and grey eyes and a young Navy seal from Kentucky, the writer is happy to point out and explain in detail the 10 clues which the police have missed – 3 of them point to the one foot man, 1 points to the man from Kentucky and the remaining 5 point to Sparrow. When the occupants of the house arrive, they are asked to explain these 10 clues. The residents come up with some great explanations to the presence of those 10 anomalies – with each one adroitly explained, the great mystery writer’s hypothesis is shattered one by one and he quickly takes leave. The police do catch the third convict based on the eleventh clue provided by the residents and it turns out to be the one who was selected as the least likely by Polkinghorn, a fact which makes the writer agree with the police that the life is not quite so strange as fiction!