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Can You Solve This Two-Minute Mini Mystery? ‘Stolen Valor’

Grab your magnifying glass and channel your inner Sherlock Holmes to crack the case!

Woman’s World readers are entertained each week with a two-minute mystery story in every issue (and have special Mini Mysteries magazines devoted to cracking even more cases!) — from whodunits to who-stole-its to who’s up to no good — and we’re sharing those stories here each week to bring more laugh-out-loud fun to our readers.

Read on for the newest installment!

Stolen Valor by Cindy Anne Hogg

Fresh from solving two previous mysteries in her hometown of Milleville, Miss Lavinia Lewis was summoned to the home of her neighbor, Sheila Anderson.

“Whatever is the matter?” she inquired when Mrs. Anderson opened the door.

“My late husband’s Bronze Star! It’s been stolen! Please come in.”

Bronze star medal - Two-Minute Mini Mysteries
Two-Minute Mini MysteriesGetty/Jeffrey Coolidge

As Lavinia entered the living room, Mrs. Anderson introduced her to the others in the room. “My daughter, Monica,” she said, indicating a plain young woman with reddish hair. “My older son, David.” A sullen young man stepped forward to shake Lavinia’s hand and say glumly, “Nice ta meet ’cha.”

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“And that is my youngest, Bobby.” She nodded toward a beefy young man slouched in a recliner. He merely grunted.

The uniform lay on the dining room table.

“David is the same size as my late husband,” explained Sheila, “and he wears the uniform in the Milleville Memorial Day parade each year, with the Bronze Star pinned to it. When I got the uniform out of storage this year, the medal was gone! I was shocked. I looked everywhere and can’t find it. I think someone has taken it!”

“Who was the last person to handle the uniform before today?” asked Lavinia.

“That would be me.” Monica stepped forward. “I took it to the dry cleaners after last year’s parade. After picking it up from the cleaners, I pinned the medal back on, then zipped everything into the storage bag and hung it back in the cedar closet. But then, everyone in the family knows where it’s stored.”

“Can you show me where the medal was pinned?”

“Right here,” said Monica, running her hand over the smooth material on the right breast. Lavinia leaned closer to look. “Aren’t medals supposed to be worn on the left breast?”

“Only by the serviceman or veteran. Relatives are allowed to wear their deceased loved one’s medals, but only on the opposite breast.”

“Interesting! I didn’t know that.”

“Here’s a photo of my dad wearing it,” said David, as he produced a framed photo of a man in uniform. “See that little ‘V’ on the medal? It stands for ‘valor.’” He stood a little straighter and puffed out his chest.

Bobby sprang out of his chair, approached his brother, and got right in his face. “How ironic you get to wear a medal proclaiming ‘valor,’ you little weasel,” he sneered. “That medal was supposed to be left to me, until you turned Dad against me.”

“Not true, you spoiled brat!” retorted David. “As the youngest, you always fancied yourself the favorite, but I know Dad wanted to leave that medal to me, the oldest. It’s only right!”

Two brothers arguing
Two-Minute Mini MysteriesGetty/Westend61

“It’s neither of yours until Mom passes on, so please quit your arguing!” cried Monica.

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Mrs. Anderson turned to Lavinia. “I’m so sorry, Miss Lewis. My boys have been like this since they were little. It’s a constant power struggle and squabbling between them.”

She sighed wearily. “It gets really tiring.”

“I’m quite sure,” agreed Lavinia. “‘How good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity,’” she quoted, as she shook her head sadly. Regaining her focus, she continued, “But let’s settle the matter at hand.”

Turning to Monica she said gently, “My dear, I have no idea why you took the medal, but if you apologize to your family and return it in time for the Memorial Day parade, I’m sure all will be forgiven.”

Monica looked surprised, then burst into tears.

How did Lavinia know who the culprit was?

Monica said she had re-pinned the medal on the uniform after the dry cleaning, but Lavinia could see that the fabric was still completely smooth. The medal would have left little holes in the fabric if it had been re-pinned and then removed. Monica confessed that, tired of her brothers’ fighting, she had given the medal to her new boyfriend to impress him. She tearfully apologized and promised she would get it back in time for the parade.

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