Miles Kington: Inspector Braid and the exploding confetti

'There's no mystery about that at all ... We've met this exploding confetti stuff before, used by a TV programme called Taken For A Ride'
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The Independent Online

Another Sixty Second Sleuth story for today, in which Inspector Braid again takes less than a minute to solve the crime.

Susan Allsop was in hospital on her wedding day. She had been married first, then put in hospital afterwards.

During the wedding ceremony she had been right as rain, but as she was leaving the church some of the confetti thrown at her had exploded, and set her dress on fire. Although it was easily put out she had been slightly burnt and badly shocked, and they had decided to keep her in hospital for 24 hours.

"I hope you don't mind answering some questions," said Inspector Braid. "The sergeant and I won't take long."

"Not at all," said Susan.

"It will help to ease the monotony of being in hospital," said her young husband, Peter, who was sitting on the other side of the bed.

"Do you remember who was throwing confetti at you?" said the inspector.

"They were mostly girls from the office," said Susan.

"Were they all girls?" said the inspector.

"I remember seeing a man," said Susan. "He was was carrying something on his shoulder. A suitcase or bag or something. I wasn't really taking it all in."

"Why would anyone want to hurt Susan, that's what I can't understand," said her husband. "And exploding confetti! It's such a crazy way to attack someone. I bet there's never been anything more unlikely."

"You've lost your bet," said Braid. "There was the Piranha in the Pool case..."

"What was that?" said Peter.

"Woman who was attacked by two piranha in her own swimming pool. They had been put there by a hit man. Then there was the human lightning conductor... A bloke was kidnapped during a thunderstorm and put in the middle of a field with a metal jacket on, idea being to attract the lightning and kill him."

"And did it?" said Susan, horrified.

"No. But it did hit the kidnappers, who were sitting in a car watching. Then there was the poisonous toothpaste..."

"Don't think I remember that one, sir," said Sergeant Comfort.

"Very ingenious," said Braid. "The would-be killer put a small amount of very powerful poison in the nozzle of the victim's toothpaste tube, reckoning that the poison on the toothbrush would kill her, but that there would be no trace of the poison left in the tube."

"Did it work?"

"No. He had forgotten that people don't swallow toothpaste. They spit it out... Then there was the man with the wooden leg which the murderer sawed through the night before..."

"Look," said Peter, "this isn't getting any nearer to clearing up the attack on Susan!"

"God bless you, young man," said the Inspector, "there's no mystery about that at all. It was a stunt that went slightly wrong. We've met this exploding confetti stuff before, used by a TV programme called Taken For A Ride.

"They do a prank and film it, and then ask you for permission to use the footage. That man you saw carrying something? It was a TV camera. I'm surprised they haven't been along already..."|

As he spoke, the door opened and a man carrying a huge bunch of flowers came in.

"Lance Fearless, London TV," he said. "Look, Mrs Allsop, we're awfully sorry if..."

"That attempted toothpaste murder, sir," said Comfort, as they drove away. "If it didn't work, how did anyone know it had happened?"

"You're right," said Braid. "I don't think it did happen. I rather think it was in a book I read once."

"And how did they know in the book that it was an attempted murder?"

"Just drive, Comfort," said Braid, "and don't ask questions I don't know the answers to."

Inspector Braid will be back soon