Locked-Room Mystery Short Stories and Impossible Crimes

These short stories contain a seemingly impossible crime. Some of them feature a crime scene that happened in a locked-room. Others simulate this situation by featuring  a crime with seemingly no way for a perpetrator to enter and leave the scene undetected.

“The Two Bottles of Relish” by Lord Dunsany

A salesman tells a story that those in the know want to hush up. A woman, suspected of being murdered, completely disappeared. A man named Steeger was the prime suspect. He’s in possession of the money she had. He says she left the country. The salesman relates all the details to his flat mate, who has a knack for seeing what others miss.

This story, one of the most famous murder mysteries ever, can be read in the preview of The Black Lizard Big Book of Locked-Room Mysteries(61% into preview)

“The Man With the Watches” by Arthur Conan Doyle

New information has come to light on the Rugby Mystery of 1892. A young man was found shot in a train carriage. No one knew how he got on the train. The man and woman who’d been seen to enter it earlier were gone. The lone man who’d been in the next carriage was also gone. No one was seen entering or leaving the train. The victim was found with six valuable gold watches.

This story can be read in the preview of Blood on the Tracks: Fifteen Locked-Room Mysteries Set on Train Tracks(24% in)

“Waiting for Godstow” by Martin Edwards

Claire practices her grief-stricken expression in the mirror. She’ll need it soon for the authorities. She’s waiting for Zack to call to tell her that her husband is dead. The time passes slowly. She gets a call, but it’s not from Zack. She tries to figure out what to make of it. Zack calls next, saying everything is done.

This story can be read in the preview of The Mammoth Book of Locked-Room Mysteries & Impossible Crimes. (14% in)

“(The Traveler’s Story of) A Terribly Strange Bed” by Wilkie Collins

A man in Paris visits a gambling house. He goes on an impressive winning streak. He eventually breaks the bank. He gets some advice on how to protect his winnings.

This story can be read in the preview of The Black Lizard Big Book of Locked-Room Mysteries(50% in)

“The Problem of Cell 13” by Jacques Futrell

Augustus S. F. X. Van Dusen has had a brilliant scientific career and is known as The Thinking Machine. He accepts a challenge put forward by two of his friends, Ransome and Fielding. Augustus is to be incarcerated at Chisholm Prison and treated as any other inmate. Augustus claims he could escape within a week.

This story can also be read in the above preview of The Black Lizard Big Book of  Locked-Room Mysteries(29% in)

“The Lost Special” by Arthur Conan Doyle

Eight years ago, Louis Caratal, a small man, urgently needed to speak to the superintendent of a London train station. Caratal was accompanied by a large man who seemed to be in his service. Caratal had arrived from Central America. He needed to be in Paris as soon as possible. They made arrangements for a special to leave in less than an hour. It departed and was due to arrive in Manchester before six o’clock. At a quarter after six, the superintendent receives a telegram saying the special has not yet reached its destination.

This story can be read in the preview of Miraculous Mysteries: Locked-Room Murders and Impossible Crimes(select Kindle, 19% in)

“The Odour of Sanctity” by Kate Ellis

Vicky and her class of young students arrive at Bickby Hall for their history trip. She’s greeted by Muriel, in full Elizabethan costume. Muriel looks worn out; she’s concerned about her daughter, Francesca. They begin touring the house. Muriel’s presentation is interrupted in the Great Hall by a terrible scream. Two boys think they saw something outside.

This story can be read in the preview of The Mammoth Book of Locked-Room Mysteries & Impossible Crimes. (43% in)

“An Almost Perfect Crime” by William F. Smith

A man entered a telephone booth, closed the door, and fell over dead a few minutes later with an ice pick in his back. A thorough report has been filed, recording every detail about the scene. It’s handed over to Detective Stone.

This story can be read in the preview of The Mammoth Book of Perfect Crimes & Impossible Mysteries. (17% in)

“The X Street Murders” by Joseph Commings

The secretary at the New Zealand Legation, Gertrude, tells Captain Cozzens that Mr. Gosling will see him soon. She picks up a pad and paper, and a large envelope, and goes into Gosling’s office. Seconds later, three gunshots are heard and Gosling is dead.

This story can also be read in the above preview of The Mammoth Book of Perfect Crimes & Impossible Mysteries(58% in)

“The Doctor’s Case” by Stephen King

Watson remembers a case where he solved the mystery before Holmes. Lestrade burst in at 221B Baker Street and urged Holmes to come investigate a perfect locked-room mystery. Lord Hull was found that morning in his study with a knife in his back and his will in front of him. He was a thoroughly unpleasant man, in business and at home. His family endured the mistreatment for the sake of inheriting his money.

This story can be read in the preview of The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. (18% in)

“The Case of the Dixon Torpedo” by Arthur Morrison

Hewitt, an investigator, receives a visit from Mr. Dixon. The drawings of a top secret torpedo have been stolen from his office. He doesn’t suspect either of his employees. No one had entered or left the office during the time in question. Hewitt and Dixon set off for the office.

Read “The Case of the Dixon Torpedo”

“The Necklace of Pearls” by Dorothy L. Sayers

Sir Septimus throws an annual old-fashioned Christmas party at his country house. After the dinner he likes to play the same games each year. On Christmas Eve he also has the tradition of giving his daughter Margharita a pearl for her necklace. This year, in addition to the three members of his family, he has eleven guests. During the evening, it’s noted that something has gone missing.

Read “The Necklace of Pearls”