DETECTIVE CONAN (isn't mine)
Title: Encyclopedia Conan and the Case of the Refridgerated Corpse
Genre: Solve-your-own-mystery/Encyclopedia Brown homage
Rating: PG-13 for mentions of grisley death
Notes: Meant primarily as a logic puzzle, so no one is particularly in character. The solution is here
For a metropolitan area of its size and population, Tokyo was a remarkably safe city. Some citizens attributed this to the naturally courteous and law-abiding nature of the Japanese; others, to the robust economy (it was the early nineties, after all). A few locals cited the hard working police force. "Because while it is true," they said, "that most cops are useless creatures in the back pockets of the yakuza, look at Inspector Maguire. In the last three years, there has not been a single unsolved murder under his jurisdiction."
What most didn't know, and would not have believed, was that this remarkable record was due not to Inspector Maguire's hard work, but to the efforts of Amateur Detective Shinichi Kudo. Whenever Inspector Maguire faced a difficult case, he would call the high school student. Most times he would not even have to call - Shinichi would show up at the scene of the crime on his own, hoping to be as great as Sherlock Holmes one day.
For the last few months, though, Shinichi hadn't been around. Fortunately for the Tokyo police, his disappearance coincided with the sudden competence of failed private investigator Kogoro Mouri. Mouri was now as frequent a fixture at murder scenes as Shinichi had been; together with daughter Ran and young family friend Conan, he seemed to have a knack for being in the right place at the wrong time. He'd gained the nickname "the sleeping detective" for his unusual method of deduction. He solved all his most difficult cases while asleep in a chair or slumped against the wall.
In fact, Detective Mouri was sleeping at this very moment, dead drunk in the middle of the day. Meanwhile, Conan was hurrying home for dinner. He walked as fast as he could, cursing his short legs.
"Conan! Wait!" It was Ayumi, a classmate and friend.
Conan stopped. "What is it, Ayumi?" he asked.
"My older sister needs your help with something," Ayumi said. "Can you come with me for a minute?"
Conan looked at his watch, but gave in when he saw Ayumi's pleading expression. "Okay, I'll come. But I can't promise that I'll be able to help," he said.
Ayumi lead Conan up to the balcony of her apartment, where another girl was waiting in a white plastic chair. "This is my older sister Tami," she said. "She's in her high school's Drama club."
"Pleased to meet you," Conan said, bowing.
Tami only nodded her head a little. "Ditto," she said. Then she pulled Ayumi aside and whispered in her ear, "Are you sure this shrimp can help? He's just a little kid!"
She was whispering very loudly. Conan twitched. He liked being little about as much as Michael Jackson liked being black.
"Of course Conan can help!" Ayumi said. "He's a genius! Conan, my sister wants to know where she should put the play she's writing."
"She means where I should set it," Tami said. "It needs to take place somewhere that has people from all over the world, because we're practicing accents and the costume designer wants to do a lot of different types of clothes."
"Then you should set it in Toronto," Conan said immediately. "That's the most ethnically diverse city in the world according to the 1990 international census."
"Really?" said Tami. "Wow, I never would have guessed. Thank you very much."
"Thank you very much," Ayumi echoed.
"Not a problem," said Conan.
And it wasn't, for him, because 'Conan Edogawa' was merely the assumed identity of missing genius detective Shinichi Kudo. Mouri himself didn't know that he owed his success to Conan, who solved all his cases for him. Seventeen year-old Shinichi had disguised himself as Conan after he was accidentally turned seven by the mysterious Black Organization. On the good days, he reflected that while he might have lost ten years, he had gained a brand new family. Then he remembered that his 'dad' was a drunk and that he was in love with his 'sister', and those weren't the good days anymore.
"See you in school tomorrow," Conan said to Ayumi. Then he left, once again hurrying. If he took a shortcut, he could still make it home in time.
Ran was cooking Sukiyaki tonight. It was one of his favorite foods. Unfortunately, it was also one of Mouri's favorite foods. If he was late, there would hardly be any left.
He arrived just in time to see a groggy, but greedy, Detective Mouri heap his plate high with meat and vegetables from the pot in the middle of the table. "Ran," he cried, "your dad is taking all the food!"
"Put some of that back, Dad," Ran said, coming in from the kitchen with two full glasses in her hands. She set one in front of Conan and the other in front of her father before going back into the kitchen for a third. "I didn't make it so that you could eat it all."
"This is comfort food," Detective Mouri said, but he obligingly put a little bit back in the pot. "I need this after the terrible day I had today."
"What happened?" Conan asked.
"Yes, I was wondering that too," Ran said, sitting down. "You were home early today."
"Remember my appointment? I was supposed to meet Jun Imura, the businessman, this morning. He thought his former partner might be trying to kill him because he'd taken control of the Freon business they'd co-owned."
" 'Thought'? " Ran asked. "Dad, you don't mean that…"
"That's right," Detective Mouri said, "Mr. Imura was already dead when I arrived at his apartment."
"That's terrible!" Ran said. "How did it happen?"
"His business partner hit him from behind," Detective Mouri said. "It happened a few days ago, or at least that's what the coroner told me. The body was half stuffed into the refrigerator, so it hadn't really decomposed. The police only found it this morning, but they'd almost solved the case before I even got there. I not only lost a client but also the chance to enhance my reputation!"
"How did the police know the body was at the apartment if it wasn't decomposing and didn't smell?" Conan asked. "Your appointment was for 10:00 am, and yet they were there before you."
"Repairman and taxi," Detective Mouri said, stabbing a piece of meat with his chopsticks.
"Dad, that doesn't make any sense," Ran said. "Maybe you'd better start at the beginning."
"Sure," Detective Mouri said. "The police were there ahead of me because my taxi broke down on the way to the apartment. The engine overheated."
"It's been hot all week," said Ran. "I really wish we had air conditioning."
Mouri didn't laugh, but he did choke a little. "Funny you should say that," he said, "because it was Imura's air conditioner repairman who found the body and called the police. He called at ten. I got there in the middle of the field autopsy.
"The refrigerator had been left open for a few days, and the whole apartment was freezing. The lock on the front door had been forced open by a crowbar. Judging by the bloodstains, Imura was killed in his bedroom, also with a crowbar, and then dragged into the kitchen.
"They'd just determined the time of death when I walked in the door. Imura's business partner, Shun Honda, was the prime suspect because he had a motive, but he was out of town and couldn't be reached by phone. They had to send out an officer to get a statement in person. The police took my testimony and the testimony of the repairman, and then let him go home. Then we waited three hours for the officer to catch up with Honda, and meanwhile it was only getting hotter..."
"What did he say?" Conan interrupted.
"The repairman, or Honda?" Mouri asked.
"Both," Conan said. He had the feeling that something was wrong, but he wasn't yet sure what it was. He was determined to figure it out before the end of the meal. That would be no mean feat as Mouri, between descriptions, was doing his best impression of a vacuum cleaner.
"The repairman said he had an appointment that morning to fix the air conditioner. No one answered when he rang the bell. He tried the door and found that it was open. The forced-entry marks from the crowbar were not very visible," Mouri explained. "He found the body as I described it before, half in the refrigerator. Then he called the police.
"As for Shun Honda, the officer found him on the road leading to his country house. Honda had left town a few days before, just after Jun Imura was killed. He apparently thought keeping the corpse cold would disguise the time of death and give him an alibi. What he didn't know was that it's actually easier to autopsy a well-preserved body. But that's not even the best part."
Mouri paused. "What was the best part, Dad?" Ran prompted.
"The best part is that he was street racing when they found him! That's a serious crime here in Japan. It gave the police officer an excuse to search his car, and do you know what they found there?"
He paused again. This time, it was Conan who answered.
"They found the crowbar. It probably still had blood on it."
"How did you know?" Mouri asked, dumbstruck.
"It was obvious," Conan said. "You said that the police solved the case without you. Only finding the murder weapon would have allowed them to solve it so quickly." Mouri and Ran were still staring at him. Quickly, he added, "It's just like that board game I played with Ayumi! Mr. Green with the rope in the conservatory! Except I didn't really understand the rules so I kept losing, ha ha ha..." He trailed off. Only Mouri looked convinced. Ran clearly hadn't bought his innocent-little-kid routine.
"Anyway, that basically cinched it," Mouri said. "Case closed! Although the police are also investigating Honda's racing partner Ken Ngoya from Nagasaki. He has a history, apparently, and parts of his car were illegally imported from England. The two planned to start up a new business together; that may not have been all they'd planned.
"If only all murderers were as stupid as Shun Honda. Although then I suppose I'd be out of a job." Mouri laughed at his own joke, started to choke, swallowed, and laughed again.
Conan watched in horrified fascination. Then he remembered himself, and said, "I wouldn't retire just yet." He triumphantly picked up the last piece of meat before announcing, "Shun Honda can't be the killer."
WHY CAN"T HONDA BE THE KILLER? WHO REALLY KILLED JUN IMURA?
HINT - highlight to read. Only if you really don't know the answer or really do, since it makes things rather obvious.
There was a momment of tense silence as Mouri and Ran turned torward the young detective. It was broken when Mouri burst out laughing.
"Tell me another one, shrimp," he said. "He's got the motive, the weapon, and his own suspicious behavior to indict him. As far as I'm concerned, it's a closed case." Mouri stood, gathering his plate and chopsticks. "I think I'll have a beer. It's not as if I have work for tommorrow."
"You already finished the beer this afternnon," Ran reminded him. She stood as well. "Sorry, Conan, but the police are taking care of this one. Do you want to help me with the dishes?"
"No," Conan said, "I want you call Inspector Maguire and tell him there's been a mistake."
"Just drop it, kid," Mouri said. He turned toward the kitchen.
Conan narrowed his eyes. Then he grinned, childishly. "Ok! Ran, I'm hot. Can you open the refridgerator?"
"What?" Ran asked. "Why?"
"Because we don't have an air conditioner," Conan reasoned. "We'll have to use the refridgerator instead. Our appartment can't be any harder to keep cool than Mr. Imura's was."
Ran shook her head. "But Conan, that's…" Her eyes widened. She and Mouri exchanged shocked glances.
"That's it!" Mouri exclaimed. "But... wait, I still don't get it. If it wasn't the refridgerator, then what was it?"