Solution: Ms. Dunnit knew that if smoke inhalation were the cause of death, the canary would have died of it long before its owner. She remembered that canaries were used by miners to detect the presence of gas underground - the birds would die when exposed to the slightest amount of gas and long before the miners noticed it. Because the bird was in the bedroom and was unharmed, and because the body was not burned, she knew the man must have been dead before the fire started. Although Lt. Hugh Dunnit suspected Debbie Bliss of killing her husband and then setting the fire, he was never able to prove it.
She is now happily knitting away in the Bahamas with her new husband.
Ms. Dunnit's neighbors were gathered on the street watching with horror as firefighters battled a blaze in the front half of the Bliss family home. "I wonder if he is okay," Ms. Dunnit asked one of her neighbors. I know that his wife, Debbie, left this morning to go on a sock knitting cruise, but his car is in the driveway so he must be home. "It depends where he was in the house. Since the bedroom is in the back, maybe he is alright." A firefighter emerged out of the front door with the family canary squawking in his cage. He handed the cage to Ms. Dunnit and asked if she could care for the bird until they could locate the wife. Ms. Dunnit didn't know how her neighbor could sleep through a fire with that bird in his bedroom. The bird was loud enough to keep her awake. Canaries are only supposed to sing in the morning, but this one squawked constantly. Just then another firefighter came out the front door with a body on a stretcher. "We found him in bed," they heard one of the firefighters say. What a horrible way to die," one of the neighbors said, "It must have been smoke inhalation because the body doesn't look burned or anything." "He didn't die of smoke inhalation," Ms. Dunnit suddenly blurted out. "He was dead before the fire even started."
What brought Ms. Dunnit to that conclusion? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org by midnight on Saturday, July 19 with your solution!