Can you solve the crime? The first detective story ever!
1. Think of an apartment high off the street, a room on the fourth floor. A double murder was committed here: Two females dead, a mother and her daughter. The mother flung from the window down to the street with her throat deeply cut, her daughter shoved up the rooms chimney with brute force! Now, the room’s door is bolted from the inside, so how did the murderer escape? There are no adjoined buildings, no near windows or fire escapes.
2. You’ve read about the case in the papers. The police claim a bank clerk did it, a bank clerk who brought over some gold to the women’s a day before. But even the police know it’s sketchy, so, seeking help in solving the case, the police chief allows you and your friend to peruse the crime scene. You are not professional sleuths; you may attempt to solve this peculiar case with only your powers of observation. Do your best, solve the perfect crime. The place is Paris, the streets name is Rue Morgue, the year is 1841.
3. The murder scene is gristly. A great struggle occurred here high off the street. The two poor women suffered tremendously. You inspect the room and see the gold. You take notes: Why didn’t the murderer make off with the gold? Why did he/she throw the mother out the window after slitting her throat? Why shove the daughter’s corpse up the chimney and more importantly, how? No man born of a woman could shove a corpse up that narrow chimney. Most importantly, what is the motive of the crime? Every crime has a motive.
4. Witnesses describe hearing a dialogue between two people, one talking in French and the other mumbling incomprehensibly. You look out the window, from which the mother was flung. Far across the building, you see a lightning rod. Still, no man could make the jump, never mind climbing the lightning rod… You re-inspect the room and find a bunch of coarse hairs, bristly, like a brooms.
5. These testimonies and your observations are all you have to work on: A high room with a door bolted from the inside, two mutilated corpses, no gold was taken, no access from the window to other windows, a bunch of coarse hairs and a murderer with super-human strength. Now think, THINK, for what you see is what there is. Let go your preconceptions go and rationalize.
Any crime is solvable. The premise described here is the first detective story ever written, The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allen Poe, published in 1841. Poe’s sleuth solve the crime by thinking and seeing things for what they are. We will not spoil this great riddle of a story but here’s a clue, concerning the motive: If one body is stashed (in a chimney) and another flung out the window, may it be for the purpose of hiding something? Also, if there were two voices as witnesses told, may it be that one party was feverishly trying to hide something from the other?
Any crime is solvable with clear reasoning, every crime is also preventable but that is not a matter for detective stories, it is the reality and challenge of smart security, which is preventive by nature. You may legally download and enjoy Poe’s full story.