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The story goes like this: The protagonist infiltrates a secret society in order to unmask and capture its leader. Unfortunately, he is caught and they are about to execute him, when he reveals that he has a secret dossier on each of them in his safe (to be revealed if he doesn't get back within a pre-specified time). Since no one in the secret society is willing to let anyone else access to their own info, the leader volunteers to retrieve it (in exchange for a painless death for the protagonist). When the leader doesn't return in due time, the protagonist reveals that his safe has a hidden door that snaps shut whenever the dossier is removed without deactivating the trap, making the safe an airtight death trap with limited air supply. It also can only be opened by the protagonist's voice, as the safe is voice controlled! I don't recall the ending very well though...

Any help will be appreciated - I had read it as part of a short story anthology in high school.

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    roughly when were you in high school?
    – phantom42
    Oct 7 '15 at 12:51
  • I'm guessing it's more of a vault than a safe, but that's getting pedantic. It might aid with the keyword searches, though.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Oct 7 '15 at 13:07
  • @phantom42: That wouldn't help, as the story itself was pretty old at that point :)
    – TCSGrad
    Oct 7 '15 at 22:43
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This is a Peter Wimsey story by Dorothy L.Sayers. I think it may be "The Adventurous Exploit of the Cave of Ali-Baba". From Wikipedia:

As recounted in the short story "The Adventurous Exploit of the Cave of Ali Baba", in December 1927 Wimsey fakes his own death, supposedly while hunting big game in Tanganyika, to penetrate and break up a particularly dangerous and well-organised criminal gang.

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  • Impressive. You can find it on Project Gutenberg at gutenberg.ca/ebooks/sayersdl-treasury/… if you want to verify, TCSGrad.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Oct 7 '15 at 18:35
  • Impressive. Just re-read the whole story - thanks for the pointer to the entire collection, @Sean Duggan
    – TCSGrad
    Oct 7 '15 at 22:44

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