I like to think that when he turned 18, Encyclopedia Brown got sick of the whole thing and committed a string of still-unsolved murders.
Of course, my brain being the brain it is, I couldn't stop turning that over in my head, so I imagined the following scenario:
:: Encyclopedia grows more and more grim and despondent; maybe he starts dressing in black. He spends less time with Sally Kimball, who is hurt by this. He closes his detective business.
:: His first victim is, of course, Bugs Meany, whom he kills in a way that leaves no visible markings of trauma on the corpse and which vexes the Idaville medical examiner, who hasn't had much to do in eighteen years. Encyclopedia leaves the body by the back door of that delicatessen that the first paragraphs of each Encyclopedia Brown book make a point of mentioning.
:: Encyclopedia's string of murders begins after his father, the Idaville police chief, announces his intention to retire.
:: When the second victim is found near one of Idaville's two movie theaters, a palpable sense of fear descends on this quiet community. Chief Brown's years of successful law enforcement are called into question. He brings details home to Encyclopedia, who uses his own knowledge of the case to send his father down wild goose chases before he ultimately just refuses to do anything more.
:: The murders continue, until finally Sally Kimball discovers the key piece of evidence that Encyclopedia forgot about, and gives it to Chief Brown, who must now arrest his own son.
WHAT WAS THE CLUE THAT TIPPED SALLY OFF?
(turn to page 78 for the solution!)