DETECTIVE CONAN (isn't mine)
Mystery is here.
Hint is here.
"What am I going to do?" Mouri asked. "I don't even know if it means anything!"
Conan rolled his eyes. At this rate, it would take the rest of the night to get them absolutely nowhere.
Ran was a bit quicker on the uptake. "Dad, at least call the Inspector. You two can work the rest of it out later."
"Right, I'll call Inspector Maguire," Mouri said. He strode toward the kitchen phone, wobbling only a little. Conan followed as quickly as he could.
Before Mouri could dial more than a few numbers, and before Ran could follow them into the kitchen, Conan disabled Mouri with a quick shot from his wristwatch stun-gun. Mouri slumped against the counter, phone still cradled in his hand. This gave Conan exactly five seconds in which to artfully arrange the famous "sleeping detective" and disconnect the phone. Mouri, unsurprisingly, was heavy.
Conan ducked behind the counter as Ran entered the room. Silently he took out a cellphone. With one hand he dialed Inspector Maguire's private line; with the other, he adjusted the voice-modulation device in his bow tie. When he spoke, it was in Mouri's mid-tenor.
"Yes, Inspector Maguire? This is Kogoro Mouri. It's about this morning's murder. Yes, the refrigerator one. I've just realized that there was a terrible mistake. Shun Honda is not the killer."
Ran hovered by the door to the kitchen, watching. Behind the counter, Conan was waiting for Inspector Maguire to finish dismissing his claim. Shinichi Kudo had been more respected the buffoonish Mouri, eccentric reputation or not.
At the first available opportunity, Conan said, "You're overlooking something, Inspector. How could a refrigerator have kept an entire apartment cold for several days? An open refrigerator does not cool anything at all - the heat from the engine is greater than the cold it generates. To suggest otherwise is contrary to the zeroth law of thermodynamics."
That was the law of entropy, Ran realized. So far her father was only bringing up what they'd both realized before, although she would never have expected him to phrase it that way. Physics had always been one of Shinichi's fortes.
"What that means, Inspector, is that the apartment must have been kept cold by other means. Didn't you think it was suspicious that Imura's air conditioner repairman simply walked into the apartment? Any normal person would wait outside the door.
"More to the point, why would Imura have scheduled a repairman for the same time he'd scheduled a private investigator? My meeting with Imura was set for 10:00am. Had my taxi not broken down on the way, I might have been the one to discover the body.
"Simply put, the repairman is the murderer. He waited until just before Shun Honda left town before he killed Imura and planted the evidence in Honda's car. He knew it would look suspicious if Honda left right after the murder took place. He set the air conditioning as high as he could in Imura's apartment so that the body wouldn't be discovered until after Honda had gone."
Conan paused. On the other end of the line, Inspector Maguire was arguing something. "But Inspector, I do have proof. Didn't you note that in the three hours we spent trying to catch up with Honda, the apartment became noticeably warmer? We assumed that this was because the refrigerator door had been closed.
"But if it was not the refrigerator, but the air conditioner, that had been keeping the apartment cool, then it's perfectly logical that it would get hotter. After all, wasn't the air conditioner broken? And as the apartment was still cool when I arrived, it could only have been broken recently.
"The repairman was lying. He couldn't have had an appointment to fix the air conditioner if Jun Imura was already dead before it was broken. The repairman probably broke it himself at the same time he 'discovered' the body."
Conan wiped a bit of sweat from his brow. That had been the easy part. It was nothing but facts, after all. Next came speculation.
"Why did the repairman bother to break the air conditioning? It was obviously so that he'd have an excuse to be at the apartment. He must have wanted Imura to be discovered at precisely that time. He had no way of knowing about my appointment, of course.
"Perhaps he and Ken Ngoya, the street racer, were working together. If Shun Honda were caught street racing, it was certain that his car would be searched. It must have been vitally important to the murderer that Shun Honda be blamed. The man probably had a grudge against both Honda and Imura."
There was another pause, after which Conan laughed. Mouri's voice made it sound a bit like the braying of a donkey.
"I don't have to do all the work, do I? How should I know what the grudge was? That's a job for the police. Yes. You're very welcome."
"So Dad," Ran asked, "did you ever find out what the repairman's grudge against Jun Imura and Shun Honda was?" She was setting the table. Conan appeared from the kitchen, carefully balancing the drinks.
"Who?" Kogoro asked. He was watching television. Specifically, a beauty pageant. Conan snorted in disgust.
"The guy who was in the refrigerator and the guy who was framed for it, remember?" Ran said. "This is done. Do you need any help, Conan?"
"No, I'm fine," Conan said. He wanted to hear the details as much as Ran did. It was frustrating: now that he was in grade school again, Mouri was his only connection to the police department.
"Yeah, I remember," Mouri said. "It was business."
"Mind explaining that, Dad?" Ran asked when no other information seemed forthcoming.
"I mean that before Imura and Honda went into business together, Imura was supposed to go into business with this other guy. His name is Ichiro Shigeru, by the way. But then Imura dropped him, apparently after he'd reorganized all of his finances, for Honda. Shigeru was completely ruined and had to become a repairman instead of a business owner."
"But that's just so… mundane," Ran said. "Don't these sorts of cases usually involve something more personal?"
"I've heard that Shigeru took it very personally," Mouri said.
"These sorts of cases usually involve revenge," Conan said, unexpectedly. "I think this qualifies."
Ran looked at him strangely. Mouri nodded and said, "Time for dinner!"
I've got a few more mystery ideas but probably won't write them--not until after I flesh this one out a bit more, at least.