A Website Mystery Challenge - Post #1

Beginning today, I will introduce a mystery challenge. Over the next fourteen days, I will describe a murder mystery, and will post clues to uncover the killer. A new clue will be posted every two days. Each clue will describe details of the crime, the suspects, and the investigation.

Each clue will also include a hidden clue, a cryptogram. If you decipher the key to the cryptogram, you will have a deeper glimpse to unraveling the mystery. The cryptogram does not change. In other words, the value of "A" is the same for the first clue as for the last. So grab a scrap of paper and taken notes. Every clue will give you more letters in the cryptogram.

At the end of the mystery, you will be invited to identify the murderer. Those who guess correctly will have their name entered into a drawing. One person will be selected randomly to receive the grand prize: a complete library of Virginia Smith's mystery/suspense titles! That's right, seven books, autographed especially for you.

Here's post number 1:

The Victim: Wealthy widow Maryanne Wolverton, thirty-eight and gorgeous, gained her fortune by marrying well and often. Stephen Wolverton was her fourth husband. He died and left her wealthy beyond her dreams. She likes to display her wealth with ostentatious displays of gigantic diamonds and emeralds. She also enjoys the attention of virile young men (hence the employment of Raul the Pool Boy, who knows nothing about pools but looks great in a Speedo), and has been pictured on the front pages of the tabloids on the arm of more than one handsome – but usually penniless – young man.

The Crime: Maryanne’s body is found dead on a lounge chair beside the pool at her Beverly Hills mansion at seven in the morning by Raul. She has been strangled. Detective Collins, the investigating officer, finds the murder weapon hidden beneath a nearby bush – a man’s blue necktie. Investigation uncovers the basic facts: she had dinner with her stepdaughter and her latest “charity case,” the handsome young Brent. Mrs. Butler, the cook, served a delicious dinner of baked halibut, which Maryanne hates. The two had harsh words and Maryanne grabbed a bottle of wine off the table and stormed out of the dining room in the direction of the pool, leaving her stepdaughter and Brent sitting in awkward silence at the table. That was the last time anyone saw Maryanne alive.

CRYPTOGRAM CLUE (5 words): 26-2- 36- 49- 2- 28- 28- 10- 38 ___ 4- 18- 36- 40- 16 ____ 28- 2- 26- 10- ___ 46- 2- 38 ___ 4- 30- 24- 24- 18- 28- 14- 10- 36

CRYPTOGRAM KEY: a=2, m=26, w=46