Friday, August 21, 2015

"A Nice Example of the Locked Room Mystery"

"The Mystery of the Slip-Coach."
By Sapper (real name: H. C. McNeile, 1888-1937).
Short story. Collected in RONALD STANDISH (1933).
Story (with typos) online HERE.
A Ronald Standish Kindle megapack is for sale HERE.
"Did he throw a raw egg at you?"
"What in the world is a slip-coach?" we hear you mumbling. Wikipedia explains:
A slip coach or slip carriage is a British and Irish railway term for passenger rolling stock that is uncoupled from an express train while the train is in motion, then slowed by a guard in the coach using the brakes, bringing it to a stop at the next station. The coach was thus said to be slipped from its train. This allowed passengers to alight at an intermediate station without the main train having to stop, thus improving the journey time of the main train. In an era when the railway companies were highly competitive, they strove to keep journey times as short as possible, avoiding intermediate stops wherever possible.
Slip-coaches, with and without the hyphen, were in use from 1858 to 1960—and if that's not enough, HERE is a page explaining them in exhaustive detail.
Sapper is best known for creating Bulldog Drummond, so the more thoughtful detective Ronald Standish is something of a departure for him. The estimable Mary Reed (HERE) characterizes Standish this way:
Wealthy and something of a sportsman — particularly keen on golf and cricket — Standish only takes cases that interest him and having done so persists until he solves them or, according to [his good friend Bob] Miller and unusually for amateur detectives, must own himself beaten. His greatest assets when investi-gations are afoot are an excellent memory for faces and unusual facts and a talent for noticing small details others have missed.
As for this particular story, Mary writes:
It takes Standish some thought to solve THE MYSTERY OF THE SLIP COACH, wherein a man is found shot to death on a train with a smashed egg splashed about his compartment in a nice example of the locked room mystery.
Resources:
- If you want to recreate the experience of reading a story that's been published in a news-paper, with all of that intervening material (adverts and so forth) interrupting your concen-tration, go HERE and find Sapper's story scattered throughout the June 12, 1937 issue of 
The Australian Women's Weekly.
- Movie makers seem to have ignored Ronald Standish completely; McNeile's filmography (HERE) almost exclusively favors Bulldog Drummond productions.

Category: The locked train car mystery (if there is such a category)

1 comment:

  1. I'm going to have to read that one. I'm a huge fan of the Bulldog Drummond books but I've overlooked Ronald Standish.

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