Test your sleuthing abilities on the World Wide Web 

It's a Mystery

Was it Colonel Mustard in the parlor with the candlestick? Or did Miss Scarlet do it with the lead pipe in the kitchen? Actually it was none of the above. And if you really want to know whodunit, you'll have to log on to www.mysteries.com to find out.

The A&E cable network — which airs mysteries as often as five nights a week at 10 p.m. — now brings us still more mysteries by way of the World Wide Web. Anybody with a computer, a modem and a browser can see if they're as good as the sleuths on TV by trying to solve the online Mystery of the Day.

The Mystery of the Day is presented in the form of a story featuring amateur logician Thomas P. Stanwick, who often holds court in the Royston Chess Club lounge and comes up with the right answer when all others, including the police, admit to being baffled. The stories are written in a quaint British style that transports the reader back 60 years or so to Agatha Christie's time. Each is short — no more than half a page long. At each story's end, the reader is invited to solve the crime.

If you enjoy a good puzzle, you'll find the site to be a delightful, if brief, mental exercise. And if you're stumped, the answer and an explanation are only a click away.

One recent mystery focused on a golden mace stolen from a small museum. It was found two days later in a leather shop in the village, where there were three employees: Appleby, Barrows and Connor. All three were arrested.

Their subsequent trial eventually narrowed the mystery down to two questions: Who stole the mace? And when was it stolen?

All three men confessed to stealing the mace, but each made two additional statements. Appleby said he was either alone or with Connor and that the mace was stolen either Wednesday afternoon or night. Barrows said Appleby was his accomplice and the mace was stolen Wednesday afternoon. Connor said neither of the other two were involved and the mace was stolen Wednesday afternoon.

The answer is that Appleby committed the theft all by himself on Wednesday night.

I must admit I had to click to find the solution. All along I was convinced it was Colonel

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