Mom Knows Best by James Yaffe

by Arun

Theme: Crippen & Landru Series

Source: My Mother, The Detective

Story Number: 112

The first story to feature Mom debuted in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine in the year 1952. James Yaffe wrote 7 more Mom stories spanning across 16 years and all these stories have now been collected for the first time in this wonderful collection, a collection which according to Ellery Queen, features some of the finest armchair detective stories ever written.

It’s become a custom for Homicide Detective Dave and his wife Shirley to have dinner with Mom every Friday. During the course of the meal, Dave ends up talking about a case that he has been working on and Mom with her shrewd and intellectual mind, poses 3 or 4 questions and solves the case for her son! The first case to be brought to Mom’s notice happens to be a neat little impossible crime.

Vilma Degrasse has been found dead in her hotel room – the elevator girl Sadie and the clerk both see the girl being escorted by a middle aged banker to her room on the 5th floor. The handyman is the second visitor but he claims that the door was locked, he could hear the TV in the room but nobody answered the door. An hour later, the third visitor finds the girl dead when he walks into the open room. The elevator girl and the clerk were together and noticed no one going in or out. But the police are not able to pin the murder on any of the three visitors.

Mom poses her four “most important questions” and the answers provided by Dave suits her theory very well and she is able to give them an alternate solution which the police had never thought of and yet the clues were there right in front of them (and the reader) all the time. A phenomenal debut for Mom!