Every Monday I read Inspector Danger’s Crime Quiz. You’ll notice I didn’t say read with pleasure. Usually I don’t.
I’m a big fan of whodunits with their intricate plots and subtle clues and challenging mind games. Inspector Danger’s Crime Quiz, a weekly comic strip syndicated by the Universal Press Syndicate and available on UPS’s GoComics.com, is a whodunit; but one without the intricacies, subtleties, and, usually, the challenge. Each week The Inspector’s one-page comic story presents us with a mystery and the clues necessary to solve it. Then the actual solution is printed upside down on the bottom of the page.
The problem is that the mysteries are frequently inane and the solutions preposterous. Like the recent one about a burglary at an art collector’s house. The collector said his dim-witted cleaning lady, who he keeps because she has a cleaning compulsion, saw the burglar. She did but couldn’t identify him. The Inspector saw the broken glass in the door the burglar used to enter the house and noted there was no broken glass on the floor. He deduced the cleaning lady must have broken the window herself to pretend there was a theft, then gave into her compulsive cleaning and cleaned up the broken glass. Somehow that proved that she was the thief and there was no burglar.
Problem is, if the cleaning lady’s compulsion was so strong that she’d clean up glass she broke herself to fake a burglary, she’d have had the same compulsion to clean up the broken glass if it had really been broken by a burglar. So the absence of broken glass only proved that the cleaning lady compulsively cleaned it up, not who broke it.
That’s an example of when the strip’s solution is stupid. Sometimes the solution isn’t stupid, just annoying. Like the May 26th installment.