That Bug That’s Going Around by Helen McCloy
Theme: Crippen & Landru Lost Classic Series
Source: The Pleasant Assassin and Other Stories
Story Number: 111
Basil Willing’s daughter has asked him to join her for the dinner she is hosting for the Nobel Prize winner Jason Blair and his troupe which includes his wife, his biographer, his assistant and an old friend of Jason who also happens to be the visiting doctor for Peter, Basil’s grandson. Peter is suffering from a cold and his mother is not too happy with the first doctor’s verdict of “it’s just a cold – must be that bug that’s going around”. More so when Jason breaks the news that there has been an epidemic in the hotel they are staying – where five people have died suddenly after catching a cold – suspected to have been caused by a strain of an unknown virus circulated through the air conditioning system!
The sixth victim happens to be Jason himself – right after the dinner! And Basil knows that the person responsible for the six deaths happens to be one of the guests – based on the clue left by the murderer on a doodle which the person has unconsciously scribbled while using the telephone – a doodle, which is unique and which is identified by the psychologist and one other guest. To solve the rest of the case, he banks on the scraps of information commonly available in the newspapers and the information available in the dead scientist’s biography – a solution rooted in a closely guarded scientific experiment carried out for the defense a decade ago.