Saturday, July 1, 2017

"I Knew I Was Safe If Only I Could Get to the Bridge"

"Striding Folly."
By Dorothy L. Sayers (1893-1957).
First appearance: Detection Medley, 1939.
Short story (16 pages as a PDF).
Online at FadedPage in 6 formats (HERE).

"Absorbin' game, detectin'."
A dying King Arthur tells his friends, "The old order changeth, yielding place to new"; but there are some people who aren't willing to accept change, one such being Mr. Mellilow when he learns that the man he's been socializing with so amicably plans to introduce large-scale electrification into his rustic idyll. The question is, is he upset enough to kill? For the police, the circumstantial evidence points Mr. Mellilow straight to the gallows, but for the Chief Constable's friend polishing his monocle it points in a very different direction . . .

The characters:
~ Mr. Mellilow:
"My goloshes are up at the Folly."
~ Mr. Creech:
"There may be a man coming to see me. If I'm not here by nine, don't expect me."
~ Sir Henry Hunter:
"Nothing stops a fellow like Creech. Except death."
~ Mr. Moses:
"I am a commercial traveller. My car has broken down in the village. I have to stay at the inn and I ask the good Potts if there is anyone who can give me a game of chess to pass the evening. He tells me Mr. Mellilow lives here and plays well. Indeed, I recognise the name."
~ Wimsey:
"A pretty piece of fused and inverted symbolism. The dead body of a black crow become a dead man with a white rook."

Comment: It's interestin' how many elements this story has in common with "Murderers Shouldn't Overlook Little Things!" (HERE): the well-to-do recluses; the isolated country estates, each one called a "Folly"; and the chess games, with one particular piece assuming greater significance.
Further comment: Mr. Mellilow's nightmare is a fine piece of vivid descriptive writing.

- Our latest encounter with Dorothy L. Sayers was a Miscellaneous Monday posting (HERE).

The bottom line: "The police, finding a corpse with twenty-eight stab wounds in a bathtub, suspected foul play."
Tim Kreider

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