Bill Hillman's
Weekly Online Fanzine
Volume 048


A Mystery Puzzle by Ed Burroughs

THE PROSECUTING ATTORNEY cleared his throat and glared at the witness fidgeting uneasily on the stand. "You say your name is King," he barked. "How old are you?"

The witness, a red-faced man uneasy in ill-fitting clothes, fingered his soft hat nervously as he answered in a scarcely audible voice. "I am five years older than that other defendant over there who is twenty years younger and much poorer than the defendant who has the same name as he."

"Now," snapped the Prosecuting Attorney, "in addition to you and two other defendants you have just mentioned, there is a fourth defendant. Do you know his age?"

"He is five years older than I."

"You are well acquainted with all the other defendants, are you not?"

"I know them all, sir, but I wouldn't say as how I am well acquainted with all of them. I am only a porter in Mr. James' bank and scarcely ever spoke to him until after we were both indicted."

"Do you know who gave the red necktie to Judge Racket?" The Prosecuting Attorney shot the question suddenly after a brief pause. His vehemence startled the witness and left him gasping.

"Y-yes," he stammered.

"Which one of the four defendants was it?" demanded the Prosecutor.

THE ATTORNEY FOR THE DEFENSE leaped to his feet. "I object to that question, your honor, on the grounds that his answer might incriminate him."

"Objection sustained," ruled the court.

"King," continued the Prosecuting Attorney, "one of the defendants in this case has the same name as I; would you say that this defendant is older than the one who gave the red necktie to Judge Racket?

"He is younger, sir; he is ten years younger than you."

"That is all." He turned to a white-haired man sitting at a table beside the Attorney for the Defense. "Mr. James, please take the witness chair."

A PORTLY MAN with a careworn face approached and was sworn. "What is your name?" asked the prosecutor.

"Thaddeus James," came the answer in a dull, weary voice.

"And what is your vocation, Mr. James?"

"I am a banker."

"How old are you?"

"If I were five years younger I should be just your age."

"You are a very rich man, are you not, Mr. James?"

"I was born in 1929," replied the witness with a tinge of bitterness in his voice; "but today I am worth but little more than my clerk over there, regardless of what others may think."

"You mean William James, one of the defendants in this case?"


"Now, Mr. James, you have known Mr. Cooper for how long?"

"There are two Coopers in the court room, sir; my attorney's name is Cooper. Do you refer to him?"

"No, to the other Cooper -- one of your co-defendants."

"I have known him for one-seventh of my life and one sixth of his."

"Is the man who bribed Judge Racket older or younger than this man?"

"He is as much younger than you as he is older than the defendant whose name is the same as yours."

"THAT IS ALL, Mr. James; you are excused. And now, gentlemen of the jury, you have heard all the evidence, and during the past three days of this trial it has shown conclusively that one of these four defendants is guilty of having given a red necktie to Judge Racket. These men have all tried to shield one another, but the State has circumvented them by reducing the identification of the guilty man to a matter of cold figures that cannot lie. Unintentionally and unknowingly on their part, they have been adroitly led into divulging the identity of the culprit by revealing his age. The man against whom you must bring in a verdict of guilty, if this great and glorious nation is to endure, has just been identified by Mr. James.

"Gentlemen of the jury, your duty is plain."

FIFTEEN MINUTES LATER, the jury brought in a verdict of guilty against one of the four defendants.

How old is the guilty man, and what is his name? 


NOTE BY YE ED: This is the second mystery puzzle propounded by the famous author of Tarzan. Mr. Woods Peters of San Francisco best all readers of the first puzzle by solving it in fifteen minutes. Write in and tell us how long it takes to solve this one -- and no fanoodlin!

"Murder!" A Collection of Short Murder Mystery Puzzles 
Murder at Midnight, Bank Murder, The Terrace Drive Murder (8.10.32), The Gang Murder, 
The Lightship Murder (35.10.26), The Dark Lake Murder, Who Murdered Mr. Thomas?, 
The Red Necktie (1932), The Dupuyster Case 
Rob Wagner's Script Weekly (1932 & 1935) 


This solution appeared in the June 4, 1932 issue of Rob Wagner's Script Weekly magazine

EDDIE BURROUGHS, who is by way of being a colleague of ours in the side issue of writing mystery thrillers, had a story in last wk's THE SCRIPT anent a fellow by the name of Cooper, anno aetatis suae LX, who was found guilty of bribing a judge by the name of Racket by giving him a red necktie for nothing.

Thus the correct answer would be that the guilty man was sixty years old and his name was Cooper.

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