Shut-in Detectives

One of my all-time favorite McSweeney’s pieces has to be Cases from the Files of Traig & McGrath, Shut-in Detectives. Here’s a sample:

#1: The Case of the Purloined Tab
STATUS: Solved.

Peter and Jenny owned a 6-pack of Tab. It was a collector’s piece and they hoped to sell it on eBay. Recently they noticed that one of the cans had gone missing. It was determined that the can had disappeared sometime in the last year. Suspects were questioned, beginning with Peter and Jenny’s roommates. Both were exonerated when they pinky-swore their innocence. Peter and Jenny then turned their attentions to houseguests who had visited within the last year. Those who had visited in the winter were eliminated, because everyone knows that’s hot-beverage weather. Unattractive visitors were also eliminated, because Tab Cola is a beautiful drink for beautiful people.

This left a small pool of suspects. Examining the list, Peter and Jenny realized they had found their perp. The crime was clearly committed by Mr. W—-, because he is a bastard.

#3: The Case of the Grapefruit Pound Cake
STATUS: Solved.

Jenny made a grapefruit pound cake from scratch. It was very dense so it was hard to eat more than a sliver at a time. When they went to bed, there was a two-inch chunk of cake left. When they woke up, it was gone.

(What follows is fiction) Peter and Jenny spent the morning going over possible suspects. Was it one of the two of them, sleepwalking and sleep-eating? Was it their roommate Daniel, who, though he has a small appetite, has a demonstrated affection for baked goods? Or was it an intruder?

(What follows is true) Peter and Jenny slept late. They did not notice the cake was gone because they were not awake. At 10:00 a.m. their roommate Angela woke Jenny up when she called to confess she’d taken the rest of the cake.

The Case of the Grapefruit Pound Cake was solved. Two mysteries remained: 1) Why Angela thought it was okay to call and wake Jenny up before noon; and 2) Why the cake didn’t turn out very well in the first place, when Jenny had followed the recipe exactly.

The other day I happened to notice that there is now a special section devoted to the case files on the McSweeney’s site. So this afternoon, in the grand tradition of the housebound investigate reporter, I emailed the editor and asked him what was up. NUH-oos FA-lash: Apparently the pair are going to be a regular feature on the site. There are least ten new cases to look forward to.

I hope they get a book deal.


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