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"The Summer Rental" by Hy Conrad

See-n-Solve #97 - March 2015

Orig. appeared Jan. 2000


Learn about Amy and Harry Silver

Crime Scene See-n-Solve

Amy was splurging, treating her father to a weeklong stay at the shore.

"I'm paying you back," she explained, "for taking me in after my divorce. Besides, we can afford it. They're bound to up you a grade, with all the cases you've been solving."

"Right," laughed Harry. "I'm a crime-solving genius."

They were having drinks before dinner when they heard raised voices from next door, an identical, completely furnished seaside cottage. The couple there seemed nice enough. Tonight they and their guests had barbecued steaks on the grill.

It was only polite to ignore the neighbors' noise-- except when someone cried out "dead." Harry heard the magic word, crossed the sandy boardwalk to the next porch and knocked on the screen door. Amy followed.

A distraught woman answered. Harry explained his credentials and they were invited in.

"My husband collapsed at the dinner table," she moaned.

The detective and his daughter entered the dining room. "These are our guests, Gil and Arial Sobel."

The middle-aged couple nodded. The fourth neighbor said nothing. He was collapsed back in his chair, his lips blue, open and cold.

Harry placed his nose to the man's mouth and frowned. "Did you all eat the same food?"

"Yes," Gil volunteered. "Marcus was recovering from a cold. He complained about everything being tasteless, but he ate anyway."

"We just barely started," Arial said. Amy could see that. A bite or two had been taken out of every steak. The asparagus, red wine and rolls had also barely been tasted.

"How were things served?" asked Harry.

"We served ourselves," said Glenda, the dead man's wife, pointing to the platters on the table. "Why do you ask?"

"Could anyone have wanted your husband dead?"

The three remaining diners exchanged glances. "No," Glenda said, decisive if not convincing. "It had to be a medical thing."

"Yes, I'm sure you're right," Harry Silver lied. "Do you mind if we look around-- just to be on the safe side?"

Crime Scene See-n-Solve

Illustrations by Josh Neufeld