Has anyone read Two Minute Mysteries by Donald J. Sobol? It's a book that's filled with short, 1-2 page mysteries for people to solve. It's a good book, but the downside is that most of the mysteries are overly easy to solve. That's because the stories are so short that there's no room for putting in something unrelated to the case. The result is that the witness is always the culprit, and he or she always makes an obvious mistake that proved his or her guilt.
Let me try to demonstrate what a typical Two Minute Mystery looks like, in 300 words or less.
Detective Ernwinkle Snaglefoompus stepped into the restaurant. A dead body lay slumped over a table. Various officers were investigating the crime scene, while one police officer greeted the detective and briefed him on the situation.
"A murder, huh?" Detective Snaglefoompus asked. "Who's the victim?"
"The victim is Dr. Ralph Hooligan," the cop said. "He was found dead, fifteen minutes ago."
"Hooligan...Why does that name sound familiar?" the detective wondered.
"He was in the news recently," the cop said. "His organization just got a $50 million grant, so they could find a cure for lactose intolerance. He claimed that ridding himself of the disease was the goal of his life."
"And now his life is over," Detective Snaglefoompus quipped. "Hard to believe someone would kill a famous scientist in a public place like this. Who found the body?"
The cop jerked his finger towards a nervous-looking man in a suit. "That would be the waiter," he said. "He claims he was assigned to the victim's table."
Detective Snaglefoompus went to question the waiter, who was giving his official statement to the police.
"As I said earlier, Dr. Hooligan was fine when I brought him his dessert," the waiter said. "It was a vanilla milkshake, one of our specialties. Can I get you one, detective?"
"Maybe later," Detective Snaglefoompus said. "What happened next?"
"I don't know," the waiter said. "I came by with the check ten minutes later, and he was dead! Someone must have killed him during that time."
"Someone like...YOU!" Detective Snaglefoompus said, in an overly dramatic manner.
WHAT IS DETECTIVE SNAGLEFOOMPUS TALKING ABOUT?
Solution: The waiter is lying about what happened. The victim did not order a milkshake for dessert, because the victim was lactose intolerant.