Another collar by the Sixty-Second Sleuth

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The Independent Online

Today we bring you another complete mystery featuring the Sixty-Second Sleuth, Inspector Kenneth Braid. Why "Sixty-Second Sleuth"? Because no crime takes him longer than a minute to solve!

Today we bring you another complete mystery featuring the Sixty-Second Sleuth, Inspector Kenneth Braid. Why "Sixty-Second Sleuth"? Because no crime takes him longer than a minute to solve!

"My wife's jewellery was in her bedroom, Inspector," said Harry Pope. "Now it's all gone. But the bedroom door was locked. The window was locked. So how the hell did anyone get in? It's impossible!"

This was ironic, coming from Harry Pope who had made a fortune from burglary himself, and now here he was asking the police for help. You'd think that Harry of all people would be able to figure out how it was done, thought Inspector Braid. But apparently not.

"I gather you're a retired gentleman now, Harry," said Braid.

"Yeah, I've said goodbye to villainy," said Harry Pope. "I've done my time inside. I've made my pile. So I've gone straight and I'm devoting my declining years to growing Alpine flowers. And now someone's bleeding gone and turned over my house!"

"Exaggeration," said Braid. "They only turned over your wife's bedroom. Rest of the house was untouched. So they came in through the window."

"Not possible," said Harry. "For one thing, the window was locked. For another, it's on the third floor of a house in full view of the main street. Someone would have seen!"

"And so they did, Harry old boy," said Braid. "And so they did. But nobody took any notice. And you would know why if you had noticed that there was something rather special about the window of your wife's bedroom..."

"Special? What's special about it? Apart from the high-security lock on it?"

"It's very clean - that's what's special about it."

Harry Pope looked at Inspector Braid as if he were mad. "What's so sodding special about a window being clean?"

Inspector Braid sighed and turned to his sidekick, the ever faithful Sergeant Comfort. "Tell him, Comfort."

"Well, sir," said Comfort, "it suggests that the window has recently been cleaned."

"Go on."

"By a window cleaner."

"Go on."

"A window cleaner who can mount a tall ladder, and get up to third-floor windows without attracting suspicion."

"Tell me more."

"And who would have noticed on a previous visit that there was a high-security lock on the window."

"Tell me even more."

"Which would not have been too difficult to replace with a dummy security lock."

"Good heavens," said Inspector Braid. "Sergeant Comfort, are you trying to tell me that Mr Pope's regular window cleaner might have prepared all this in advance so that on his next visit he could climb up to the top windows, whip one of them open, climb inside and nick the jewels, then be outside again in a jiffy? With every passer-by saying, if he said anything: 'Oh look, there's a window cleaner at work'?"

"That is precisely what I am trying to tell you, sir," said Sergeant Comfort.

"Bloody hell!" burst out Harry Pope. "I'd better pay our window cleaner a visit, pronto!"

"No need," said Braid affably. "Me and Sergeant Comfort already paid him a visit. We found these on his premises, as a matter of fact."

Braid pushed forward an impressive pile of jewels. Pope examined them.

"Yeah, it's all there," he said, in relief. "No, hold on - where's the O'Shaughnessy diamond? That's missing!"

"I don't believe we saw that, did we, Comfort?" said Braid.

"No, sir," said Comfort. "I believe that was not among the haul."

"What a shame," said Braid. "It must be elsewhere. Perhaps it's gone to police charity funds. Well, share and share alike, eh, Harry? Take from the rich, give to the poor - what do you say, Harry?"

But Harry said nothing.

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