It came as a shock to the whole street – in fact it wasn’t much of a street, more of a cul-de-sac with just six houses on it – when Mr Algernon James was found lying dead at his front door with a carving knife stuck in his back. He lived at Number Four. Police carried out an exhaustive investigation. All five of the other households had salient motives.
There was Mrs Dorothy Phelps of Number One. Algernon James had run over her cat six months earlier. All that Algernon had said by way of apology was that “Your stupid cat shouldn’t have been on the road”.
There was Mr Harry Barnaby of Number Two. He was not happy that Algernon James had chainsawed down a significant tree on the street. It supposedly had been planted years earlier by Princess Diana not long after she had danced with John Travolta. All that Algernon had said was “It ruined my view, and since you love it so much why don’t you cart it away yourself.” Not a leaf was moved. It lay there as a relic.
Ms Tessa Clockbury of Number Three was a most displeased neighbour. She shared a boundary fence with Algernon and he had cut a hole in the fence so his dog could get through and do its business on her lawn. “A dog is a dog” was all that Algernon said.
Mr Tom Brick despised Algernon with all his might. He was at Number Five. Algernon had parked his old motor vehicle on the grass verge outside Tom’s house. It not only leaked oil on the lawn manicured to perfection by Tom, but the car had been sitting there for several months now and all that Algernon had said was “It’s a public street. You don’t own it.”
Finally there was Mrs Hyacinth Arrowsmith. It would take a novel to expound on why she held grudge after grudge against Algernon. Not least was a letter Algernon had written to the editor of the local newspaper (and printed) referring to “Hyacinth Arrowsmith, that old fart bag at Number Six”.
So there were the five suspects. Each could be guilty as far as the street gossips knew. It therefore was a great surprise when Mrs Noelle Brackenburg was arrested for the murder. No one had heard of her, and she didn’t even live on the street.