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The Puzzling Pie Contest
Mysteries by Kids 4: Dec-Jan 1999
by Megan H.

"The banana cream pie is missing, and Mrs. Roberts wants us to find out who did it," I said to Chris, who helps me in my detective work sometimes. "What do we know about the case so far?"

My younger brother Chris studied the detailed notes he had made at the crime scene while we were talking to the victim. "Okay, Alexa. As everyone knows, Mrs. Roberts makes the best pies ever. The neighborhood kids love her for them. She was going to enter the stolen pie in our neighborhood's Best Pie Contest. Mrs. Roberts was cooling a pie on her windowsill when she went out to get her mail around 2:30 in the afternoon. When she returned, her delicious banana cream pie was gone! The only thing on her windowsill was a note cut out of magazine letters that read, "Do not make another pie for the contest OR ELSE."
I had gotten an idea. Obviously, the person who took the pie was someone who was involved in the Best Pie Contest. The prize was $500. Chris and I called Mrs. O'Malley for a list of who was in the contest. I wrote down their names, thanked her, and hung up the phone.
Suspect #1 was Miss Freeman, who owned a travel agency. We phoned her house and nobody answered.
Suspect #2 was Dr. Jenkins, a veterinarian. We called him, and he said he had been at a convention for vets that day. He gave me the president of the convention's phone number to prove he was there. We called the number and indeed he had been spotted there. "Cross his name out," I said to Chris.
Suspect #3 was Keri James, a college student. She claimed she was packing to go back to school. No one else was there to verify her alibi.
Suspect #4 was Danny Rogers, the star basketball player at the local high school. He said he was practicing for a big basketball game. No one else was home to say he was telling the truth.
Suspect #5 was Mrs. Jacovis. She went to the zoo alone, but had no proof of it.
"The person will not use the banana cream pie in the contest. He or she knows we're watching for them." I said.
Since Dr. Jenkins had a proven alibi, he was off our list. Chris and I had to work fast. It was 4:00 and the Best Pie Contest started at 5:00!
"We have to nab that crook by the time the contest starts!" exclaimed Chris.
Mrs. Roberts called us to say she wasn't frightened by the rude note. Another pie was baking in the oven for the contest. "I didn't have time to go to the store to get more bananas, so this one is cherry pie."
Just then I heard call waiting noise. "Mrs. Roberts? Someone is on the other line."
"No dear, that's all right," Mrs. Roberts remarked. "I'd better go check my pie." She hung up and I switched lines. "Hello?" I said.
"Hi, Alexa!" It was Mrs. O'Malley, the organizer of the contest. "All the bakers received a threatening note. Keri James has become frightened and has backed out. Just wanted to help you limit the suspects." We said goodbye and I told Chris what had happened. He crossed out Keri's name from our suspect list.
I was thinking very hard about this case when the phone rang. It was Danny Rogers. "Alexa, my pie just exploded in the oven! I checked the recipe, and everything I did was right."
"Were any of your ingredients in unmarked containers?" I asked. "Yeah, the flour."
"Taste it."
After a moment I heard a "Yuck!"
"What is it!?" I questioned.
"Baking soda! Someone must have switched them when I took a break to shoot some hoops so my pie wouldn't beat theirs in the contest."
"That's too bad," I said.
"Well, I'm out of the contest. I'd better call Mrs. O'Malley." Danny's name was off the list. That left Mrs. Freeman and Mrs. Jacovis.
At the contest, there was a big crowd. Miss Freeman wasn't there yet. She arrived just as the contest was starting carrying a blueberry pie. "Sorry I'm late!" she said. "Did you know I've been in Hawaii all week? I just barely had enough time to make the pie after I got back."
Everyone told her about the crimes done to the bakers. "Do you have any proof you were in Hawaii?" I asked.
"I sent a postcard to my friend Jane Higgins," was her reply. Sure enough, Jane Higgins had the postcard. It said Hawaii on it and showed a luau. Everyone looked at Mrs. Jacovis. She was the only suspect. "It wasn't me!" she exclaimed, nervously putting her hands in her pockets.
"Hey!" she said and pulled a small piece of paper from a pocket. It was a zoo ticket proving her alibi! It had today's date on it and the time she was there. It covered the time of the crimes!
"I'm confused," said Chris.
Everyone looked at me. I thought for a minute, then it came to me. "It's her!" I yelled, pointing at Miss Freeman. She admitted it.
"I needed the extra cash!" she said. Mrs O'Malley disqualified her out of the contest. As it turns out, Mrs. Richards' cherry pie won!
She offered me $50 of her prize, but I refused.
Someone in the crowd asked me, "Alexa, we're all dying to know. How did you know it was Miss Freeman?"
"Miss Freeman owns a travel agency," I said. "That means she has access to postcards from around the world. Even Hawaii. She could have stayed indoors and not answered her phone so people would think she was on vacation but really have been up to some major mischief."
Everyone congratulated me on my great detective work. I was so proud. But I got an even better reward; as many of Mrs. Richards' pies as I wanted.

Congratulations, Megan H.!
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