the final page of Miss Moneytree Mystery #41Emily Moneytree called everyone in the great lounge to attention. "I've called you all here because our killer, the one who murdered our dear sweet Sir Anthony, is right here in this room."
(for whodunit readers with precious little time)
"Oh my God!" cried Cicely.
"I believe I know who was the scoundrel," mused Philip, as egotistical as ever. "It was you, Mr. Rug, wasn't it? Just lying there innocently under Sir Anthony, you would have us believe you were a lifeless piece of finely woven Persian fiber of some sort, and not a merciless killer!"
"No," corrected Emily, "the killer was someone who not only knew the comings and goings of Sir Anthony's guard, but who also had an irresistible craving for month-old cigarette butts."
"No, not even Peter. You see, Peter wanted us to believe it was he who did the deed, because he was tired of everyone calling him 'Pete-who's-too-scared-to-kill-an-old-man-with-a-chainsaw'. But Peter didn't do it because he really is too scared. Woosy Peter. No, the killer had to have a will of steel, a heart so cold that if you put it in a cocktail that had been sitting out all day, it would freshen it up nicely and see you through the evening. The killer had nerves of iron. The killer - was me."
"That's right, I killed Sir Anthony, and if I hadn't been such a damned nosy detective, I'd have gotten away with it, too. I killed him by putting the chainsaw down on the ground, writing a letter to Sir Anthony (telling him that I wanted to make love to him, but only if he laid down on a running chainsaw first and killed himself), mailing the letter, waiting several days for those dreadfully slow postal whips to deliver my request, refilling the gasoline on the chainsaw inconspicuously (so it wouldn't run out at just the wrong moment), and then laughing maniacally while Sir Anthony did away with himself."
Philip pointed his finger at Emily Moneytree. "That's right, I saw you laughing maniacally over his dead body, but I guess I never put two and two together. Why did you do it?"
"Why not?" she replied. "No one else here had the guts to kill him."
"Why kill him at all? Everyone loved Sir Anthony, even you."
"That's right. But had no one killed him, there'd have been no reason whatsoever for me to snoop around this old house for days, asking personal questions and generally getting to know you all so much better than I could at dinners and under the pool table. There'd be no reason for me to call you all into this room, no reason for me to admit to killing him, no reason for me to spend the remaining few years of my life undergoing trials and appeals and sitting in some dank, weary prison wearing bright orange every bloody day."
"So that's it then. The mystery has been solved."
"Not quite. You see, I did some checking of modus operandi and such, and I have come to the conclusion that I was also the killer in every one of my previous novels. All those poor souls who I accused of murder, and the police led them away as if the little old lady who asks silly questions and scolds people on their manners couldn't possibly be wrong. All those poor, poor souls rotting away somewhere, their lives ruined because I tricked them into giving elaborate admissions of guilt for crimes they could never have committed. Can you just imagine? Well, ta ta...