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The death of Sir Levikus (Posted on 2005-07-12) Difficulty: 2 of 5
Sir Levikus, one evening, rather unwisely, announced at dinner that he was cutting someone out of his will. Sure enough, the next morning, Sir Levikus was found slumped over the desk in his study, having been fatally stabbed with a paper-knife.

Herlock Sholmes, renowned private investigator, immediately began questioning all the suspects to discover who had seen the victim last.

Here are their statements, all of which are true:

a) His long-time friend, Martin, said : "I went to the study to show Sir Levikus a first edition I bought yesterday. He kept it to examine more closely."

b) Lady Jane (my sweet Lady Jane...), Sir Levikusīs wife (now widow), said : "I borrowed the evening newspaper from my husband. There was no paper-knife present at that time; I would have remembered it."

c) Nathan, the son of the deceased, said: "I did not have coffee with my father. When I went to the study he was reading the newspaper and smoking a cigar. He showed me Martinīs first edition."

d) Lisa, Sir Levikusīs daughter, said : "I went to return the newspaper mother had borrowed."

e) Tom, the butler, said: "As was usual after dinner, I brought the coffee service to the study. Sir Levikus was at his desk reading the evening newspaper."

f) Reny, the maid, said: "I only went in to clear the coffee service. I did see that four cups had been used."

g) Cristian, the brother of the murdered man, said: "Since there was no coffee when I went to the study, we had brandy together. I wanted to look at the newspaper, but it was not in the room."

h) Simone, Sir Levikusīs niece, said: "Certainly I recognize the paper-knife. My uncle brought it out when we were having coffee together. I noticed that one other cup had been used."

Herlock Sholmesīs incisive brain immediately determined who was the last person to visit Sir Levikus and thus, was his murderer.

Who was the killer? Can you list Sir Levikusīs eight visitors in order? Show your reasoning!

See The Solution Submitted by pcbouhid    
Rating: 3.8125 (16 votes)

Comments: ( Back to comment list | You must be logged in to post comments.)
Problems with semantics | Comment 67 of 101 |
I assume (no pun intended) we're all making this problem far more complicated than it is really intended to be. Well, either that or the problem isn't very well defined.

Since these statements are incomplete, some of the factoids included are useless. Statement by statement, some things are apparent.

a) Martin, Lady Jane, Tom, and Simone are not killers. This is because none of them can be last.

b) The paper knife serves no real purpose. If certain people don't mention coffee - as is apparent - then certain people may not mention the paper knife. These people are not completely describing the state of the room, so the paper knife as a sequence placement tool is useless. Apparently bringing out and putting away the paper knife is a rather simple task.

c) The first edition in and of itself places Martin before Nathan. This provides no other insight into the sequence.

d) The coffee provides the most information. The established sequence is Tom precedes Simone, one other person, and Reny. Cristian either precedes Tom or follows Reny.

I contend that the solution is not unique. This could be a viable solution:

Lady Jane

Martin comes first. His position requirement is only that he precede Nathan.

Nathan comes second. His statement on coffee is ambiguous. The newspaper was present. The cigar is irrelevant. The newspaper means he did not come between Lady Jane and Lisa.

Tom follows with the coffee service. The newspaper is still there. Tom can have coffee since he did not specify that he did not.

Simone follows. The paper knife is shown to her but this is irrelevant. She has coffee, and sees one other cup has been used. This solution assumes Levikus uses the same cup and Tom used the "other" one.

Lady Jane comes. She has coffee and takes the newspaper. The paper knife is not present but nowhere does it state that it needs to stay out. Since the statements are incomplete, Simone could have conveniently left out that Levikus put the knife away.

Reny comes next. She takes the coffee service and the four used cups.

Cristian comes next. No coffee is present. Lady Jane has the newspaper and it's not present. (To be honest, since the statements are incomplete, somebody else could take the newspaper and somebody else can bring it back. I don't think it fits with the other requirements, however.)

Lisa comes last. She returns the newspaper.

This solution is not unique, as other people have shown. Among the assumptions I make - as you are required to make and are not unreasonable - are the following:

1) The newspaper need not be present at the start. Somebody could have brought it to him. Also, though a bit less likely, somebody else could have removed it after Lisa returned it.

2) The paper knife, once brought out, does not need to stay out. Thus, Simone could have forgotten to mention that he put it away as well. All we know about the paper knife is that Simone saw it and Lady Jane did not. To me, this does not specify whether or not it was present any other time.

3) The brandy and the cigar are totally irrelevant.

The only real assumptions I make are that Tom had coffee and that Levikus put the knife away after showing it to Simone.

Edited on July 22, 2005, 4:47 pm
  Posted by Eric on 2005-07-22 15:55:02

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