Minute mysteriesA friend of mine, let's call him C*, introduced me to the concept of minute mysteries on a weekend trip to Maine, and I've been hooked ever since.
The object of minute mysteries (aka lateral thinking puzzles) is for you to unravel the mystery, based on very limited and somewhat ambiguous clues. You are given a scenario (usually involving a death of some sort), and you have to deduce what has happened. Someone must look at the solution so that you can ask them questions to try and figure it out. The questions have to be phrased so that the only possible answers are yes, no or not relevant. There is no limit to the number of questions, and it can be helpful to have multiple people working on the case.
Below are the mysteries: Click here for solutions
~1. In the middle of the ocean is a yacht. Several corpses are floating in the water nearby.
~2. Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice all live in the same house. Bob and Carol go out to a movie, and when they return, Alice is lying dead on the floor in a puddle of water and glass. It is obvious that Ted killed her but Ted is not prosecuted or severely punished.
~3. A woman comes home with a bag of groceries, gets the mail, and walks into the house. On the way to the kitchen, she goes through the living room and looks at her husband, who had blown his brains out. She then continues to the kitchen, puts away the groceries, and makes dinner.
~4. A body is discovered in a park in Chicago in the middle of summer. It has a fractured skull and many other broken bones, but the cause of death was hypothermia.
~5. A man lives on the twelfth floor of an apartment building. Every morning he wakes up, gets dressed, eats, goes to the elevator, takes it down to the lobby, and leaves the building for work. In the evening, he goes through the lobby to the elevator, and, if there is someone else in the elevator (or if it was raining that day) he goes back to his floor directly. However, if there is nobody else in the elevator and it hasn't rained, he goes to the 10th floor and walks up two flights of stairs to his room.
~6. A woman has incontrovertible proof in court that her husband was murdered by her sister. The judge declares, "This is the strangest case I've ever seen. Though it's a cut-and-dried case, this murderess cannot be punished."
~7. A man walks into a bar and asks for a drink. The bartender pulls out a gun and points it at him. The man says, "Thank you," and walks out.
~8. A man is in a returning from Switzerland by train. If he had been in a non-smoking car he would have died.
~9. Music stops and a woman dies.
~10. A man goes into a restaurant, orders albatross, eats one bite, and kills himself.
~11. A man is found hanging in a locked room with no furniture and a puddle of water under his feet.
~12. A man is dead in a puddle of blood and water on the floor of a locked room.
~13. A man is lying, dead, face down in the desert wearing a backpack.
~14. A man is lying face down, dead, in the desert, with a match near his outstretched hand. He is nude.
~15. A man is driving his car. He turns on the radio, listens for five minutes, turns around, goes home, and shoots his wife.
~16. A man driving his car turns on the radio. He then pulls over to the side of the road and shoots himself.
~17. A man is dead in a room with sawdust in one corner.
~18. A pile of sawdust, no net, a man dies.
~19. A rope breaks. A bell rings. A man dies.
~20. A man sitting on a park bench reads a newspaper article headlined "Death at Sea" and says, "A murder has been committed!"
~21. A man is riding a subway. He meets a one-armed man, who pulls out a gun and shoots him.
~22. Two women are talking. One goes into the bathroom, comes out five minutes later, and kills the other.
~23. A man is sitting in bed. He makes a phone call, says nothing, then goes to sleep.
~24. A man kills his wife, then goes inside his house and kills himself.
~25. Abel walks out of the ocean. Cain asks him who he is, and Abel answers. Cain kills Abel.
~26. Two men, one big and burly and the other short and thin, enter a bar. They both order identical drinks. The big one gulps his down and leaves; the other sips his slowly, then dies.
~27. Joe leaves his house, wearing a mask and carrying an empty sack. An hour later he returns. The sack is now full. He goes into a room and turns out the lights.
~28. A man takes a two week cruise to Mexico from the U.S. Shortly after he gets back, he takes a three day cruise which doesn't stop at any other ports. He stays in his cabin all the time on both cruises. As a result, he makes $250,000.
~29. Hans and Fritz are German spies during World War II. They try to enter America, posing as returning tourists. Hans is immediately arrested.
~30. Tim and Greg were talking. Tim said "The terror of flight". Greg said "The gloom of the grave". Greg was arrested.
~31. A man is found dead in his parked car. Tire tracks lead up to the car and away.
~32. A man dies in his own home.
~33. A woman in Paris in 1895 is waiting for her husband to come home. When he arrives, the house has burned to the ground and she's dead.
~34. A man gets onto an elevator. When the elevator stops, he knows his wife is dead.
~35. A policeman follows a burglar into a bar. When he enters the bar he finds a set of identical twins, dressed the same, with the loot between them. After several minutes he arrests one of the twins.
~36. She lost her job when she invited them to dinner.
~37. He couldn't find a chair, so he died.
~38. A car without a driver moves; a man dies.
~39. As I drive to work on my motorcycle, there is one corner which I go around at a certain speed whether it's rainy or sunny. If it's cloudy but not raining, however, I usually go faster.
~40. A woman throws something out a window and dies.
~41. An avid birdwatcher sees an unexpected bird. Soon he's dead.
~42. A man shoots himself, and dies.
~43. A man walks into a room, shoots, and kills himself.
~44. Adults are holding children, waiting their turn. The children are handed (one at a time, usually) to a man, who holds them while a woman shoots them. If the child is crying, the man tries to stop the crying before the child is shot.
~45. A man marries twenty women in his village but isn't charged with polygamy.
~46. There are two people dead in a cabin in the woods.
~47. A man pushes a car up to a hotel and realizes he's bankrupt.
~48. She said "I love you," and died.
~49. As a man jumps out of a window, he hears the telephone ring. He tries to stop himself, but can't.
~50. A man is found dead on the floor in the living room.
~51. A man is sitting in a train compartment. He sees a three-fingered hand through the compartment window, in the hallway of the train. He opens the compartment door and shoots the person with the three-fingered hand, but he goes free.
~52. There is a dead man lying in the desert next to a rock.
~53. A man is found dead in the arctic with a pack on his back.
~54. A man is lying dead in a room. There is a large pile of gold, jewels, and so on on the floor, a chandelier attached to the ceiling, and a large window through which rays are coming.
~55. A man goes home, turns out the light, and goes to bed. He wakes up the next morning, reads the newspaper, and kills himself.
~56. A raft carrying passengers took a trip down the Amazon. The raft capsized, and no survivors were found.
~57. A man is lying dead in a pool of blood and glass.
~58. A woman walks up to a door and knocks. Another woman answers the door. The woman outside kills the woman inside.
~59. There is blood on the ceiling of my bedroom.
~60. A woman goes into a convenience store to buy a can of Coke. She pays for it with a $20 bill and receives $20.05 in change. No mistake was made.
~61. A newspaper reported the following: "Yesterday, Jacques Dubois finished first in the walking race held in Paris. He walked 62,137 miles." The article was not in error.
~62. Two children born in the same hospital, in the same hour, day, and year, have the same mother and father, but are not twins.
~63. A couple will build a square house. In each wall they'll have a window, and each window will face north.
~64. There are a pipe, a carrot and a pile of pebbles together in the middle of a field.
~65. The telephone rang in the middle of the night and the woman woke up. When she answered it the caller hung up. The caller felt better.
~66. The seals came up to do their show but immediately dove back into the water.
~67. A man is found dead in an alley lying in a pool of red with two sticks crossed near his head.
~68. A man called to a waiter in a restaurant, "There's a fly in my tea!" "I will bring you a fresh cup of tea," said the waiter. After a few moments, the man called out, "This is the same cup of tea!" How did he know?
~69. A man is found dead outside a large marble building with three holes in him.
~70. An ordinary American citizen, with a clean police record but no passport, managed to visit over thirty foreign countries. He was welcomed in each country, and left each one of his own accord. He did this in one day.
~71. Three heavy people try to crowd under one umbrella, and nobody gets wet.
~72. A black man dressed all in black, wearing a black mask, stands at a crossroads in a totally black-painted town. All of the streetlights in town are broken. There is no moon. A black-painted car without headlights drives straight toward him, but turns in time and doesn't hit him.
~72. The wind stopped blowing and the man died.
~74. An Arab sheik tells his two sons that are to race their camels to a distant city to see who will inherit his fortune. The one whose camel arrives last will win. The brothers, after wandering aimlessly for days, ask a wise man for advise. After hearing the advice they jump on the camels and race as fast as they can to their destination.
~75. A man puts a quarter down, and leaves.
~76. A man lies dead next to a feather.
~77. A man carrying an attaché case full of $20 bills falls on the way to the bank and is never seen again.
~78. The pope is giving a speech. A man in the audience shoots the mayor who is behind the pope.
~79. A man travels to twenty countries and stays in each country for a month. During this time he never sees the light of day.
~80. King Henry VIII is lying at the bottom of the stairs with a gash across his face.
~81. Joe wants to go home, but he can't go home, because the man in the mask is waiting for him.
~82. A man lies dead in a room with fifty-three bicycles in front of him.
~83. Two people are playing cards. One looks around and realizes he's going to die.
~84. A woman opens an envelope and dyes.
~85. A man is holding a box. Though he cannot see into it, he knows what's inside.
~86. A man was walking along some railroad tracks when he noticed that a train was coming. He walked toward the train before stepping aside.
~87. A man was going about his daily occupation when he noticed that his shirt was torn. 15 minutes later, he was dead.
~88. A train pulls into a station, but none of the waiting passengers move.
~89. In his own home a man watches as a woman dies, yet does nothing to save her.
~90. There is a dead man, a beetle on top of a book, and a pile of bricks.
~91. A dish moves, a scientist makes a discovery.
~92. A man is alone on an island with no food and no water, yet he does not fear for his life.
~93. A husband coming home hears his wife call "Bill, don't kill me!". He walks in and finds his wife dead. Inside are a postman, a doctor, and a lawyer. The husband immediately knows the postman killed his wife.
~94. Bruce wins the race, but he gets no trophy.
~95. A man rolls over a glass bottle. He travels the last 100 miles of the Sahara 5000 road race with a flat tire.
~96. Man pleads with boss not to fly to Chicago. The boss goes and when he returns, he fires the man.
~97. On an archaeological dig, the frozen remains of a man and woman are found. Immediately, the archaeologists realize that the remains are those of Adam and Eve.
~98. A horse jumps over a tower and lands on a man, who disappears.
~99. It's the year 860 A.D., at Camelot. Two priests are sitting in the castle's chapel. The queen attacks the king. The two priests rise, shake hands, and leave the room.
~100. Two people are talking long distance on the phone; one is in an East-Coast state, the other is in a West-Coast state. The first asks the other "What time is it?", hears the answer, and says, "That's funny. It's the same time here!"
~101. A boy and his father are injured in a car accident. Both are taken to a hospital. The father dies at arrival, but the boy lives and is taken to surgery. A grey-haired, bespectacled surgeon looks at the boy and says, "I cannot operate on this boy -- he's my son."
~102. The glass breaks, and then the man dies.
~103. A man is running. He sees lights flickering and begins to walk.
~104. A woman goes to the doctor. Later that evening she kills herself.
~105. A man is lying dead in a room. There is a large pile of gold and jewels on the floor, a chandelier attached to the ceiling, and a large open window.
~106. A woman buys a new pair of shoes, goes to work, and dies.
~107. A car without a driver moves; a man dies.
~108. She grabbed his ring, pulled on it, and dropped it, thereby saving his life.
~109. Mr. Browning is glad the car ran out of gas.
~110. A man leaves a motel room, goes to his car, honks the horn, and returns.
~111. Two dead people sit in their cars on a street.
~112. A man ran into a fire and lived. A man stayed where there was no fire and died.
~113. Three men die. On the pavement are pieces of ice and broken glass.
~114. Two people in a room alone. One looks around and realizes he's going to die.
~115. A man is alone on an island with no food and no water, yet he does not fear for his life.
~116. A man walks into a room, shoots, and kills himself
~117. Beulah died in the Appalachians, while Craig died at sea. Everyone was much happier with Craig's death
~118. A man was brought before a tribal chief, who asked him a question. If he had known the answer, he probably would have died. He didn't, and lived.
~119. A writer with an audience of millions insisted that he was never to be interrupted while writing. After the day when he actually was interrupted, he never wrote again
~120. A young woman is whisked away to a far off land, where she kills the first person she meets. Then she teams up with three others to kill again.
~121. Three men are dead near a car.
~122. A murderer is condemned to death. He has to choose between three rooms. The first is full of raging fires, the second is full of assassins with loaded guns, and the third is full of lions that haven't eaten in 3 years. Being an astute observer, he picks one door and lives.
~123. A woman shoots her husband. Then she holds him under water for over 5 minutes. Finally, she hangs him. But 5 minutes later they both go out together and enjoy a wonderful dinner together. How can this be?
~124. A very rich man hires a poor man to clean one wing of his extravagant domicile. The poor man, wanting to impress his new boss, cleans the entire house. Soon after, the man quits his job.
~125. He was killed because of poor eyesight.
~126. Two men look at each other and start to argue. They make a phone call. One man leaves for home and the other begins to dig.
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