Monday, January 28, 2013

Swing High - Jack Ritchie

Story: Swing High

Author: Jack Ritchie
Book: Little Boxes of Bewilderment
Theme for the Month: Locked Room or Impossible Crime Stories
Jack Ritchie comes up with a different kind of an impossible crime here: a man is heard hitting the ground hard by several witnesses though nobody saw his plunge; there is only one building from where he could have been thrown out (or he himself jumped) but they just can’t identify a suitable location from that building where he could have been expelled from!
There are 5 floors in this building, the roof is blocked with a locked door and there’s no other means to reach the roof. The first two floors can be ignored as he wouldn’t have met such a violent death at such heights. The 3rd floor window room belongs to a dentist – the doctor never left his duty room, the nurses & the patients in the waiting room can vouch for the fact that there was no one who didn’t come out after keeping the appointment with the doctor. The fourth floor window couldn’t have been used as the doctor has been away on vacation, the doors are locked and there is enough untouched dust in the room to show that no one has used the room in days. The fifth floor window room belongs to the ENT specialist – the room with the concerned window was locked with both the nurse and a patient waiting outside the room for the doctor to turn up and the doctor does turn up after the man met his death and both the doctor and the patient enter the room together!
So the impossible scenario which is hampering the further progress of the police investigation: from where did the man exit the building? The chief investigator does figure out how this clever murder was carried out but he doesn’t bring the culprit to justice. Why? Because he has his own secret agenda, to satisfy his own roguish motive - that is to use this same method of murder on his wife’s lover!


  1. Hello Arun,

    Am curious to know how the murder happened. Even it is a spoiler, as I do not have any options to get the book, there is no way to know it.....

    would you please post here, or is there any link where I can read. I could not find anything in Google though.



    Actually there are 2 impossible scenarios in this story: The body being found under closed windows and the way the murderer escaped or entered the room.
    1. The ENT specialist on the 5th floor enters the room with the victim half an hour before the nurse & the patient turn up. The victim's body is swung pendulum like from the window and at the full arc was dropped so that the body fell beneath the window next to that from which it was dropped.
    2. The Doctor then locks the patient room door from within, goes out of the service entrance door(another door which every Doctor has access to so that he can enter the premises without entering via the reception area), goes down the service elevator to the road via the back exit and enters the building again through the front entrance, takes the usual elevator which the patients take and enters the reception area where the patient & the nurse are waiting.
    The clue to the murderer is the hat on the hat stand which is present even before the Doctor enters the reception room.