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The Adventures of B-kun: The Sirloined Letter

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Previously...

Having broken through the codes with ease, B-kun perused the contents of the man’s phone. He would have frowned had he not already been frowning. Nothing of use. This man was clearly a lower echelon lackey of Evitceted Corp, with access to no information but that which the higher echelons deemed he needed in order to complete his task. After carefully wiping off his fingerprints with his sleeve, B-kun tucked the cell back into the man’s pocket.

“What, you’re giving it back? After we went through all that trouble?” Ben Near asked unhappily. “Shouldn’t we at least, like, take it with us?”

B-kun shook his head. “No. Doubtless the organization will be suspicious that their lackeys have not reported in by now. They’re most likely tracking it. I should be going as soon as possible. No, we should be going.” Then he looked straight into the hobo’s eyes with his clear, dark expression as serious as ever. “You shouldn’t have helped me, but you did, and now they’ll suspect you’re involved with me. They’ll capture you and torture you and try to get information out of you, and when they find out you don’t, they won’t just let you go. The only way for you to be safe is to come with me now. I’m sorry.”

Ben shrugged. “Eh...it wasn’t like my life was all that great before you came along. Besides,” he broke out into a toothy grin that reeked of alcohol, “you owe me a bottle of vodka.”

Twenty minutes later the odd pair was skirting through a backstreet in the business district. B-kun kept alert to any sudden changes in his surroundings, but he moved with purpose.

“I have acquaintances who can help find a safe place for you,” B-kun said to his unexpected companion. “But it will have to wait until morning. The only reason I came out tonight was that a friend asked for my help.”

They came to a well crafted door, above which was inscribed: The law offices of O’Hare, Heptan, Vittaro, and Deltaskos.

B-kun raised a fine-fingered hand and knocked: two long raps followed by three quick ones. There was a scuffling of feet on the other side and the door swung open.

“You came!” the pretty young woman in the doorway exclaimed before throwing her arms around B-kun’s aristocratic neck. Then she noticed his ragged companion and frowned. “...And you brought a friend...”

“Violet, this is Ben Near. The circumstances of our acquaintance are...complicated. Ben, this is Violet O’Hare.”

“College friend,” Violet filled in. She started to hold out her hand, but then, taking in the man’s attire, thought better of it. “I’m at Harvard Law now, where B-kun should be.” She gave him a warm smile but there was lament in her tone. “You were always the best of us, B. If only...”

“I didn’t come here to socialize,” B-kun interrupted. “You said you needed my help.”

Violet nodded, and her baby blue eyes clouded. “My father, Victor O’Hare, the one whose name is on the sign...he died...he...was murdered.”

“I’m sorry...” Ben said slowly. B-kun lowered his eyes.

Violet gestured in acknowledgement and continued. “It happened here, in the kitchen in the back. Dad had this place outfitted with a professional quality kitchen.”

B-kun’s brows furrowed. “The police don’t have any leads?”

The young woman shook her strawberry blonde head. “They think it was perpetrated by an outsider, because, well, it’s probably better to show you.” She motioned for them to follow her. “The kitchen...I mean, the crime scene, has pretty much been left the way it was. None of us have had the heart to go in there since the body was discovered.”

Ben Near whistled when they entered the large room. The stainless steel of the appliances glinted, the hanging copper pots glistened, and the marble of the counters shone.

Violet nodded absentmindedly. “Dad always loved cooking. He fancied himself a bit of a chef. He was a stickler for cleanliness.” She garnered a weak smile as she led them around the center island, atop which a pot sat on a stove, a bowl held the wilted remnants of salad greens, and a greying slab of meat lay on a bamboo chopping board.

There was a sharp intake of breath from Ben as attention was caught by the form on the ground, or at least, the chalk outline of where a form had been.

“Yes, that’s where he was found,” she struggled to keep her voice from shaking. “Poison, the police said. They took samples of everything but left things they way they found them...the way I found them.” Pain surged in her pretty eyes. “I was the one who found the body.”

.

B-kun’s shrewd gaze stoically surveyed the scene. It alighted on the sirloin, or what had been sirloin, on the chopping board. There appeared to be a letter carved into it: A.

“The police believe that was his dying message,” Violet said, noticing his scrutiny. “That’s why they think it was an outsider. It doesn’t really seem to point to the partners, even though from I gathered, they were having some internal issues.”

“No,” B-kun stated steadily, “on the contrary, it could have implicated any of the partners.”

Violet gasped. “What do you mean?”

The detective pointed to the knife beside the board. “It’s pointing towards where the body is. The natural motion for a person is to put the knife down pointing away from himself. Someone must have used the knife after your father was dead, from the other side of the island.”

“Why? Why carve an A into a piece of meat? It seems risky to alter the crime scene like that for something that doesn’t seem that useful to the perpetrator...”

“Most likely your father already carved something into the sirloin, to implicate the perpetrator, and he used the knife to cover it up by making it into an A when he returned to the scene,” B-kun replied. “Did the police uncover which of the partners were in this kitchen the afternoon of your father’s death?”

Violet nodded, still processing the new information. “They all admitted to being in here that afternoon, but no one can remember the exact time they were in. Neil Hepton came in for a towel, Michael Vittaro for a spoon, and George Deltaskos for a plate.”

“Do the police know how the poison was delivered?”

Violet shook her head. “The lab tests haven’t come back yet. Dad always cooked alone and never let anyone near the island when he was cooking so the killer couldn’t have just dropped the poison in somewhere. He always gathered all his ingredients on the island when he started cooking...mise en place, he called it, and he never told anyone beforehand what he was going to cook.” She gestured to the plethora of pot and pans. “No one would have known what vessel he would have used, and he always randomly chose an utensil from the drawer to use or taste with. The other partners and I sometimes cook things in here too, or make ourselves a snack, so I don’t think the killer would have poisoned everything...”

B-kun nodded. “Unlikely. And I doubt the police will find the murder weapon, the killer had the chance to take it with him when he carved the A.” He frowned and worked the case in his mind. Suddenly an image popped up in his head, a face with a cheshire-cat-that-swallowed-the-canary grin. She liked to cook too...

“I know who the killer is.”

Why did B-kun say the dying message could have implicated any of the partners?

Who does B-kun think the killer is?

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I guess I'm gonna jump on the Violet train as well. Or at least say that B-kun believes her to be the murderer.

Well, she invited him there to investigate the murder, but when he gets there she proceedes to start a talking about other things. It isn't until B-kun redirects her that she gets teary-eyed and begins to talk about the situation.

Now lets look at some of the things she says.

“My father, Victor O’Hare, the one whose name is on the sign...he died...he...was murdered.”

By choosing to add in that her father was part of the firm instead of her seems like she is trying to distance herself from the scene to draw the suspicion away from herself.

If she is the killer, I'd assume, seeing that B-kun has a past with her and doesn't suspect her from the start, that this is her first murder. Because of that, she stumbles over saying what happened to him as I would think someone with a conscience would do. It is as if she is speaking slowly so she doesn't accidently admit her guilt.

"The kitchen...I mean, the crime scene, has pretty much been left the way it was. None of us have had the heart to go in there since the body was discovered."

By calling it 'the crime scene' instead of 'the kitchen' she, again, seems to be trying to distance herself from the scene. 'The kitchen' would indicate familiarity whereas 'the crime scene' wouldn't.

She refers to her dead father as 'the body?'

Yes, that’s where he was found. They took samples of everything but left things the way they found them...the way I found them. I was the one who found the body.”

She fails to mention that she found her father's body at first, but seems to add it in here as an afterthought. Almost as if she just remembered that she told the police she found the body and felt the need to add that in.

Again she refers to her dead father as 'the body.'

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Sorry, I realize that many here do not remember my previous stint of mystery series, but I tend towards the, like, Japanese/manga style of mystery where it's more about the 'trick' the culprit uses than about psychology.

Also, my 'detective' is usually pretty infallible...okay, maybe at times a bit unrealistically so...*whistling*

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Ok Y-san, its been two months since the last comment, please divulge the answer. I have spent many hours on brainden, yet i have never posted a comment/answer. So please, in celebration of this momentous occasion, tell your answer.

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"And I doubt the police will find the murder weapon, the killer had the chance to take it with him when he carved the A.”

I believe the murder weapon is what we should be deciding.

towel could have put a poison on his hands, but that probably wouldn't get him to eat the poison.

he hadn't served anything yet, so he probably hadn't used any plate yet

He definitely had used a spoon to taste the soup, or whatever is on the stove, so my guess is Michael Vittaro poisoned the pot then took the spoon when he check to make sure violets dad was dead

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Thinking of a puzzle that could be titled the Purloined Sirloin. Probably won't find one.

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perhaps working backwards i.e. a process of elimination might be fruitful. If Victor wanted to implicate one of the partners or even another by carving into the steak, it seems he would pick a symbol unique to the culprit. A "V" for Vittaro could be mistaken as meant for Violet or even himself. Cannot tie the delta or seven to either of the Vs tho.



Another thought but not very conclusive. Victor carves a /_\ or 7 or \/. Assuming typical orientation of each symbol, the triangle is opposite that of the "V" and seven. Perhaps the orientation of the steak suggests one or the other two, kinda like the orientation of the knife suggested someone else had used it.

And finally and i suppose obviously, since it appears Victor attempted to identify the killer, he realized who that was. And presumably he then also knew he was poisoned and how. Perhaps by tasting something from the spoon Vittaro took from the kitchen.

Unfortunately none of the above address B-kun's last statement "She liked to cook too" so probably not of much use. Think they're folks out there still on the case Y-san. Maybe this recent flurry of posts will continue to revive this thread.

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He's the cat from Alice in wonderland, so the line she's likes to cook too.. might be referring to Alice. Not sure if that helps at all, but its something to think about

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I like dms172's point: what was the murder weapon? If he died by ingestion of poison, how did someone get him to ingest it? By force? Might have been signs of struggle. By tossing food into the pot or the bowl of wilted greens? Doubtful, he doesn't let anyone near him when he's cooking, and he may not have finished his mise en place.



I question the notion that the poison was in the pot, as Y-san claims to have told us all the important details. While the contents of the bowl were "wilted greens", the contents of the pot were unmentioned.

I still like the idea that someone whom he trusted set poisoned food elsewhere in the room as an offering, and then came back in after he was dead and removed it. Upon realizing that he'd been poisoned, Victor knew who had done it.

Could it have been Violet? Our knowledge of what the police found about who'd been in the room comes from Violet, who might have failed to mention to B-kun that she, too, had been in the kitchen.

Is the carved letter really the dying message from the victim? Is the bowl of wilted greens the message instead? (I can't read it any better than the sirloined letter...)
Edited by CaptainEd
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...that the poison was on the cutting board?

I don't know how it would be ingested from there, but I rarely cook without a cutting board.

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Posted · Report post

maybe the knife was poisoned and he cut himself?

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maybe the knife was poisoned and he cut himself?

That would be considered injected, not ingested. Even if we can't entirely believe what the OP says in the narrative, it more or less implies that the pots, pans, and utensils couldn't be predicted and not all of them were poisoned.

If an object were poisoned, it would be something that a good cook would have only 1 of (or very few) and would be used in many (if not all) dishes. Salt comes to mind. The cutting board was a reach for me, but I personally only have two of them (things to be cooked and things not going to be cooked) and use at least one whenever I cook something.

Edit: perhaps there was a poison in the marble counters. They're porous enough to hold a poison...

Edited by Molly Mae
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Challenges:

* Y-san says poison was ingested, so no accidental seppuku

* Violet says nobody could get near Victor or his mise en place, so no poisoning his food or equipment.

* B-kun the Infallible says that any of the partners could be implicated by the A, (and so could Violet, although more ambiguously), so therefore we can't tell who did it from the letter

* B-kun says that the murderer probably removed the poisoned evidence.

* Most of us are suspicious of Violet's manner when describing the murder scene, but Y-san rejects that kind of reasoning because it's really about the trickiness of the culprit.

Other data:

* Violet says the police learned that the three partners each had visited the kitchen, coming out with specific items. Perhaps we can actually believe her, and believe that she did NOT enter the kitchen until she found the body.

If the murderer left some poisoned food for Victor and then returned after Victor's death, it's much easier to imagine the food having been administered on a plate than a spoon or towel. Thus it's easier to imagine Deltaskos as the murderer. However, "easier to imagine" is hardly sufficient for B-kun to say he knows who murdered Victor. So I'm still clueless (or at least unable to derive enough from the clues we've got.

Edited by CaptainEd
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Just hope B-kun doesn't kiss Violet!

B-kun is already assuming any of the partners would have to have:
1) entered the kitchen, administered the poison, and left
2) re-entered the kitchen later, observed and edited the carved letter, removed the poison, and left.
In any case, no poison will be found in the kitchen.

If Violet is the killer, there are two scenarios:
A) First scenario, followed by
3) re-entered the kitchen later still and "discovered the body",

Or
B) 1) followed by

2) re-entered the kitchen later, observed and edited the carved letter and "discovered the body"

If this is true, the poison is still in the kitchen.

UNLESS in 1) she kissed her daddy (having put on poison lipstick to which she has the antidote or a protective device), left and removed the lipstick.

In all of these scenarios but the last, the killer, upon seeing the carved letter, could have simply removed the sirloin along with the poison.

Only in the last scenario, when Violet returns only once, is it necessary to doctor the sirloin before "discovering the body".

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wilted greens and grey meat - both caused by oxidation? maybe there's a connection with heptan. seems in keeping with the chemistry of "That Woman" as well.

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Just hope B-kun doesn't kiss Violet!

B-kun is already assuming any of the partners would have to have:

1) entered the kitchen, administered the poison, and left

2) re-entered the kitchen later, observed and edited the carved letter, removed the poison, and left.

In any case, no poison will be found in the kitchen.

If Violet is the killer, there are two scenarios:

A) First scenario, followed by

3) re-entered the kitchen later still and "discovered the body",

Or

B) 1) followed by

2) re-entered the kitchen later, observed and edited the carved letter and "discovered the body"

If this is true, the poison is still in the kitchen.

UNLESS in 1) she kissed her daddy (having put on poison lipstick to which she has the antidote or a protective device), left and removed the lipstick.

In all of these scenarios but the last, the killer, upon seeing the carved letter, could have simply removed the sirloin along with the poison.

Only in the last scenario, when Violet returns only once, is it necessary to doctor the sirloin before "discovering the body".

The Kiss would be a contact poison, though, and (hopefully) not ingested.

I think the biggest clues here are the wilted lettuce, the grey meat, and a towel. Why a towel?

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The Kiss would be a contact poison, though, and (hopefully) not ingested.

I think the biggest clues here are the wilted lettuce, the grey meat, and a towel. Why a towel?

It appears on the victim's lips. No reason it wouldn't appear in his alimentary canal.

ALso, in all other cases, why didn't the killer simply remove the sirloin at the same time as the poison?

But I agree, my solution doesn't use the wilted lettuce, the grey meat, the spoon, the plate, or the towel.

Did the murder happen earlier "today" (ie, the day of the evening in which Study of Scarlet and Sirloined Letter take place)?

Edited by CaptainEd
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I would be willing to bet that the greying of the meat and the wilting of the lettuce are something that happened as a side-effect and maybe not immediately. Of course, it could just have easily been time that's passed since the murder. Alas, I must leave, but I have one more speculation--

If the towel were soaked in some kind of poison, it could give off vapour in what's very likely a warm kitchen. The victim breathes in the vapour, the killer collects the towel (carefully), and nobody's the wiser.

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i agree with your statement MoMa but to clarify, was thinking Victor had not intended to commence his mis en place but instead gathered the greens and sirloin knowing they would oxidize(?)/turn brown thereby indicating (maybe along with the carving) the culprit. long shot for sure but was trying to think "enigmatically" like That Woman.

also am curious re the towel. why go to the kitchen for that? one does pat dry beef before browning (meant as searing in the juices this time) but i usually use something disposable. if Victor typically used towels for this purpose... another long shot.

still pondering...

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I would be willing to bet that the greying of the meat and the wilting of the lettuce are something that happened as a side-effect and maybe not immediately. Of course, it could just have easily been time that's passed since the murder. Alas, I must leave, but I have one more speculation--

If the towel were soaked in some kind of poison, it could give off vapour in what's very likely a warm kitchen. The victim breathes in the vapour, the killer collects the towel (carefully), and nobody's the wiser.

After I posted this, I figured it's probably not feasible the way I posed it. As a vapour, any poison would likely be too diluted to kill anybody--especially kill somebody on the spot.

somebody knew Mr O'Hare's medical history, or knew that he was allergic to something.

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If we assume that no more than one person (from the set of partners+Violet) committed the murder (admittedly, this might be an invalid assumption), then any solution involves no more than one of (spoon, plate, towel). I agree the towel is an odd thing for someone to come to the kitchen for (but maybe they spilled some coffee at their desk), and it's hard to see how it could have been used as a murder weapon.

Whoever did the deed was planning on one of these two scenarios:


(1-exit) murderer brings in and administers poison somehow, then leaves removing any excess poison and weapon; re-enters in order to discover the body, THEN, (not planned) discovers the message in the sirloin, edits the message, and then (planned) calls for help, OR
(2-exits) murderer brings in and administers poison somehow, then leaves; re-enters after a decent interval to remove the poison, (not planned) discovers the message in the sirloin, edits the message, and (planned) leaves. In this case, why bother to edit the sirloin, why not remove it at the same time as the poisoned weapon?

This is why I think it isn't important what initial Victor tried to carve into the sirloin, merely that the murderer didn't simply remove the sirloin. Why not? I suggest that it's because she expected to simply return and "discover" the body, and did NOT feel she had time to make an extra exit.

Furthermore, from a puzzle perspective, why would the murderer change the identifying message into a mysterious letter (A)? Why not frame one of the other suspects? Why not simply carve a few more horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines into it That would certainly add so much noise that nobody could retrieve an unambiguous message from it. My answer is: we don't need to know what the original message was, merely that the murderer didn't remove the sirloin.

I don't see how this matters, but I bring it to your attention, as Y-san included some words that make this clear:

The island is between the entry door and the body. (B-kun and company entered the big kitchen, then went around the island, then saw the body outline on the floor.) Is this important to us? Does it show that:

a) someone could possibly have entered the kitchen to retrieve their item (spoon, plate,towel) without seeing the body? or

b) murderer edited the message upon having just entered the kitchen?

I don't see why it's important to us. Maybe it is, though...

Edited by CaptainEd
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Michael Vittaro.

The spoon was made of lead. When Michael came in for the spoon Victor realised that he had been poisoned tried to first find some ascorbic acid (vitamin C).

As evidenced by the oxidation of the sirloin and salad there was none present. Victor then carved a V into the sirloin to implicate Vittaro.

Seeing this Michael changed the letter to an A as Victor passed out on the floor before leaving with the murder weapon.

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Michael Vittaro.

The spoon was made of lead. When Michael came in for the spoon Victor realised that he had been poisoned tried to first find some ascorbic acid (vitamin C).

As evidenced by the oxidation of the sirloin and salad there was none present. Victor then carved a V into the sirloin to implicate Vittaro.

Seeing this Michael changed the letter to an A as Victor passed out on the floor before leaving with the murder weapon.

Would a single dose from a single spoon be enough to kill someone, though? Almost every death from lead poisoning is chronic after years of exposure...

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Violet nodded, and her baby blue eyes clouded. “My father, Victor O’Hare, the one whose name is on the sign...he died...he...was murdered.”

Probably not relevant, just didn't seem right when I read it. Later references to "Dad", stupid question I know...are they the same person?

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Hepton. once he took the towel he soaked it in poison, he sneaked back and shoved it in Victor's mouth. Victor bit down, the poison came out, Victor accidentally swallows. Victor falls down and is knocked unconscious. Hepton thinks the deed is done and leaves, taking and disposing of the towel. He comes back later on other business, sees something carved in the meat that implicates him and changes it to an A as he is the only partner to not have an a in his name.

EDIT: clarification.

Edited by flamebirde
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thallium

Maybe this would explain the speedy oxidation of the meat and salad.

As compounds containing Thallium are soluble there are options for its disposal (including the use of a towel).

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