Thursday, June 30, 2016

"A Sigh—Then a Small, Subdued Noise of a Little Body Crumpling to the Floor"

"Murder with Flowers."
By Patrick Quentin (Richard Webb, 1901-66, and Hugh Wheeler, 1912-87).
First appearance: The American Magazine, December 1941.
Expanded into a novel, Puzzle for Puppets (1944).
Collected in The Puzzles of Peter Duluth (Crippen & Landru, 2016) (available HERE).
Novelette (58 pages in the C & L edition).
"The perfect theoretical murder, no evidence, no clues . . ."
In "Murder with Flowers," Peter and Iris learn that a rose by any other name would smell of murder—two of them, in fact, with a third homicide in the offing, the victims being drenched in blood-spattered flowers according to some sick psychotic revenge scheme. Peter and Iris, as usual, manage to get themselves inculpated in the killings and have to play hide-and-seek with the police while frantically trying to track down the guilty party. Although it's certainly no day at the beach for our agile terpsichoreans (they do rumba extraordinarily well, these two), their perilous situation, against all expectations, does turn into a day at the circus.

Comments: It may not be as good as "Death Rides the Ski-Tow" (see HERE), but the plot holds enough interest and is more than adequately sustained by rapid pacing and amusingly eccentric characters.
- Only Detect has a review of Puzzle for Puppets HERE.
- So far there has been only one attempt to put Peter and Iris up on the big screen, an adaptation of Puzzle for Puppets, but to judge from some reviews it was a bad idea (see HERE and HERE).

The bottom line: "One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas I'll never know."

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