Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Melee of Diamonds - Edward D. Hoch

Story: A Melee of Diamonds

Author: Edward D. Hoch
Source: The Best of Mystery – selected by Alfred Hitchcock
Story Number: 33
Edward D. Hoch has written more than 900 stories and has the phenomenal record of having his story published each month in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine for a period of 34 years without missing an issue! He has created numerous series characters, some of the most prominent being Dr. Sam Hawthorne who deals in Impossible Crimes, Captain Leopold featuring in police procedurals, Nick Velvet who steals only strange objects which have no value, Simon Ark who is 2000 years old and is always in search of the devil.
This impossible crime story features the New York Homicide detective Captain Leopold. Rudy Hoffman (who has got a long record) is seen breaking the glass display of the Midtown Diamond Exchange by several pedestrians on the road, the assistant who was closing the shop witnesses Rudy grabbing a set of diamonds from the broken window, a policeman who is quickly on the scene when the alarm goes off and tries to stop Rudy but Rudy smashes his head with the cane. A young man pursues the burglar, catches up with Rudy and when they are involved in a tussle, the police reinforcements turn up and arrest Rudy. But when they search him, they don’t find any diamonds on him. Rudy was under constant observation from the time he broke the glass till the police apprehended him. The only two people who had any contact with him during that time frame are the unconscious policeman and the young man, a search doesn’t reveal any diamonds on both these parties.
The police are stumped till a young girl approaches Captain Leopold and tells him that her boyfriend Freddy has the diamonds. He retrieves the diamonds just in time before the boyfriend returns back to the house and has adequate time to hide it before he confronts Leopold. The captain plays a deadly game by saying that the diamonds have vanished, he allows Freddy to search him and the house and when he is convinced that somebody else has done away with it, Leopold suggests to call his accomplice who handed him the jewels in the first place, which results in an unnecessary death. But it takes all of Leopold’s wits to figure out how this impossible crime was committed and by whom.

1 comment:

  1. I just read the story "A Melee of Diamonds" in the anthology "Alfred Hitchcock's Tales to Be Read With Caution". I found it to be amazingly poor. The reader has no choice but to believe that there has been a switcheroo and that the accomplice must either be Quart or Arnold. But Leopold has no clue. When it finally dawns on him that Quart might be the accomplice, and then decides otherwise, rather than turn his attention to Arnold, he goes back to theory A, no clue.