Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Challenge To The Reader - Hugh Pentecost

Story: Challenge To The Reader
Author: Hugh Pentecost
Source: EQ’s Twentieth Century of Detective Stories
Story Number: 94
“A tantalizing tale of mystery and deception by one of the most versatile and accomplished of modern master – a tale still as probing and provocative a puzzle as you have ever matched wits with ….” quotes the introduction from Ellery Queen, who incidentally was also responsible in providing the very apt title to this story which was originally titled “Darling, It’s Me!”
Nancy Bradford and her daughter are found brutally murdered in their apartment, the doorman of the apartment sees a man talking on the phone, is invited to come over, he watches the man step out of the elevator on Bradford’s floor and an hour later the two mutilated bodies are found, the doorman stays in the lobby but there’s no sign of the murderer as both the elevator and the stairs which open into the lobby was under constant observation by the doorman. This forms a very small portion of the story.
Two men who are very interested in the Bradford murders end up in a conversation regarding the murderer when they are out fishing. The rest of the story revolves around these two men , and as the tale progresses, the reader becomes increasingly aware that one man is the murderer and the other man is the detective. The question is: which is which? At various points in the story, the reader decides he knows; then with consummate cleverness, Mr. Pentecost twists the very fact which made up the reader’s mind think one way into making him think exactly the opposite!

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