October 11, 2007-Bestselling author Albert Jack has turned his detective skills to solving the unexplained in his new book Albert Jack's Ten Minute Mysteries. Here he gives us a list of his favourite ones from around the world
1. The Chilling Case of the Chase Vault
The chilling case of the Chase Vault and its restless inhabitants is one that would stump even the most stubborn cynic. The bodies of the Chase family were placed in the vault over seven years. However, every time the vault was re-opened there were signs of disturbance - lead coffins appeared to have been flung across the room and moans echoed from the chamber at night. Theories of flooding, magnetic currents, grave robbers, zombies and earthquakes have all been suggested, but this ghoulishly grim story is yet to be solved.
2. The Lady Vanishes: Agatha Christie’s Disappearance
In 1926 Agatha Christie, the world’s favourite crime writer, became involved in a real life whodunnit to puzzle even Poirot. Christie’s car was found buried in the bushes, headlights blazing, with a suitcase in the back and no sign of the author. After ten days and a national hunt Agatha was found reading the coverage of her own disappearance in a hotel in Yorkshire. Needless to say the police were not impressed. Claiming amnesia brought on by the stress of being jilted by her husband Archie, she returned to face her critics. But was this the whole story?
3. D.B.Cooper, Plane Hijacker
In 1971 a man going by the name of D.B Cooper hijacked a domestic American flight. Demanding $200,000 in twenty-dollar bills and four parachutes, the enigmatic passenger jumped out of the plane and literally vanished into thin air. Following an obsessive eight-year hunt by the FBI, no body, parachute or money were ever recovered. Had the hijacker concocted the perfect crime with this mile-high mystery?
4. The Loch Ness Monster
Nowadays Nessie is a national institution, but sightings of the Scots sea monster have been rolling in for years. We even have photographic ‘evidence’! Could it be more than coincidence that the bulk of the sightings started in 1933 the same year Bertram Mills’ circus came to town, featuring swimming elephants? However, others tend to stick to the monster idea, what with Loch Ness earning £50 million a year for Scottish tourism!
5. The Mystery of the Mary Celeste
A mystery to rival the fishiest of fisherman’s tales, the Mary Celeste was found mysteriously adrift, desolate and abandoned, with nobody left alive on board except a half-finished meal. Was it the work of sea monsters, alien abductions, pirate invasions, shark attacks or freak waves?
6. Not in the Mood: Glenn Miller’s Disappearance
The American bandleader vanished without trace en route to entertain the Allied troops in a newly liberated Paris in 1944. Police announced that Miller had sung his last Sun Valley Serenade, but no body was ever found. Some say he was accidentally shot down by the American army, some that he was helping David Niven rescue Marlene Dietrich from the Nazis and died in a disreputable brothel bar fight; maybe he’s even still alive…
7. The Death of Marilyn Monroe
They say gentlemen prefer blondes but Marilyn Monroe’s dangerous liaisons with Presidents, gangsters, playwrights and baseball players suggested a case of murder most horrid. Why was it that the police were informed of the sex symbol’s ‘suicide’ at 4.25am when Twentieth Century Fox had been called four hours earlier? Why was Marilyn placed in a position unusual for suicide? Why was it that drugs were found in her blood, but not stomach, with no signs of injection? Was Marilyn ‘accidentally’ killed by her doctor, or could JFK, the CIA or even the mafia tell us another story?
8. The Dreadful Demise of Edgar Allen Poe
The high priest of American horror, Edgar Allen Poe’s unexplained death is just as dark and cryptic as his stories. After saying that he was going to visit his ex-mother-in-law, Poe cryptically asked for a letter sent to him under the name E.S.T Grey at the Philadelphia post office. He was found five days later at a tavern in Baltimore, dishevelled, disorientated and wearing someone else’s clothes. He died later that day. Was it a case of one too many or the work of the shadowy figures seen following him on a train? Was another woman involved or could the blame lie closer to home?
9. Who Was Kaspar Hauser?
In 1828 a young man was found wandering the streets of Nuremburg able to say nothing more than ‘I want to be a soldier like my father’. Kaspar Hauser had two letters in his pocket, one bearing his name, and the other entrusting him to the army and detailing that if he was not accepted, he was to be hanged. After being probed for information it was found that he was 16, but had the mental age and vocabulary of a six year-old, although he bore a striking resemblance to the Grand Duke of Baden…
10. From Russia with Love: What Happened to the Real Life James Bond?
Lionel ‘Buster’ Crabb was employed by the MI5 as a spy during the height of the Suez Canal crisis. Ordered on a mission to look for anti-sonar devices on a Russian ship, Crabb was never seen again. Conspiracies range from murder by the MI5, suspicion of treachery, and abduction and torture by the Russians. Why was it then that a washed up, headless body of a frogman was confirmed as Crabb by the MI5, when there was no way they could be sure of its identity? Did the authorities have their own View to a Kill?
Albert Jack is a writer and researcher. His first book Red Herrings and White Elephants, which explored the origins of well known phrases in the English language, sold more than 250,000 copies. His new book, Albert Jack's Ten Minute Mysteries, is published by Penguin.
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