Sometimes, Chief Brown took time out of his busy day of not being able to solve cases to revisit cold cases that he wasn’t able to solve years earlier. On this particular night, he was thinking about the robbery at the Diamond Mart, which had taken place five years earlier. This robbery was on his mind because Tim Nolan, one of the men who had been accused in the crime, had recently died.
Shortly after the robbery, Nolan had been brought in for questioning, but was eventually released. Chief Brown had suspected that Nolan robbed the store with Daniel Davenport, but he had no evidence to prove it. Since the only person in the entire town with any capacity for critical thinking – Encyclopedia – was only 5 years old at the time and possibly too young to solve mysteries, the crime went unsolved.
No one seemed to mind that these criminals went unpunished. In fact, cases like this disprove the claim made in every Encyclopedia Brown book that no criminal ever got away with their crime.
Now that Encyclopedia was old enough, Chief Brown decided to just give him all of the information so that he could figure out what happened in under five minutes.
Nolan and Davenport met in prison in South Carolina. They became friends because of their mutual interest in codes. When Nolan was released, he settled in Idaville and started a palm tree nursery which barely gave him enough income to live comfortably. Really, he should count himself fortunate that he was able to start up his own business fresh out of prison.
When Davenport got out of prison, he moved in with Nolan. A week later, the Diamond Mart was robbed. Neither Davenport nor the stolen jewels had been seen since.
When the police discovered Nolan, his will – which stated that everything would be left to Davenport – was on the kitchen table, along with Davenport’s address and a slip of paper from a desk calendar that read “Nom Utes Sweden Hurts.” Chief Brown’s theory was that Nolan sensed that he was dying, so with his last bits of strength, he skipped calling 911 and made sure that all of his affairs were squared away and easy for others to find. He also thought that the slip of paper was a code for Davenport as to where the stolen jewels had been hidden, but he was clueless as to what it meant.
Chief and Mrs. Brown went back on forth trying to figure out the code, but they weren’t getting anywhere. Encyclopedia figured it out though. He asked his father if Nolan had a fir tree on his property. If so, that was where the jewels were buried.
Take the four words written on the slip and scramble the letters. Since this was written on a piece of paper from the calendar, let’s add the word “day” to the end of each of the scrambled words. Then we get “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.” Next in the sequence would be Friday. Take away “day” and we get “fri.” Scramble those letters and the only combination that produces an actual word is “fir.” That worked out perfectly, since he happened to have a fir growing on his property. If he didn’t, who knows where Nolan would have hidden the jewels or what kind of code he would have used. It’s a good thing Nolan knew he was dying. Otherwise, Davenport would never find the jewels.
What I don’t understand here is why they bothered robbing the jewelry store. The obvious guess would be that they did it for money, but that clearly wasn’t the reason. These jewels had been stolen five years earlier and in that time, one of the robbers completely disappeared with only his partner knowing where to find him. Why didn’t he take the jewels? No one was tracking him, because only Nolan knew where he was. He could have gotten money for the jewels, sent the money to Nolan who could have laundered it through his legitimate business. No, instead Davenport spent five years hiding and Nolan buried the jewels in his yard never to be seen again in his lifetime while he continued to plod away at his business that was barely scraping by.
It almost seems as if robbing this jewelry store wasn’t even worth it.