"The Red-Bearded Killer."
By Valentine Williams (1883-1946).
First appearance: The Strand Magazine, November 1936.
Reprinted in Maclean's, Toronto, Canada, 1 November 1936.
Revised and collected in Mr. Treadgold Cuts In (1937; U.K.),
a.k.a. The Curiosity of Mr. Treadgold (1937; U.S.).
Online at Roy Glashan's Library (RGL; HERE; HTML).
On first hearing about it, Mr. Treadgold says, "It sounds to me like a practical joke," but
he will soon have to modify his opinion . . .
Characters (in order of appearance):
~ George, a solicitor:
"I thought you told me that a homicidal maniac kills without motive?"
~ Horace B. Treadgold:
"Pink-faced and portly, a dignified figure with his grizzled hair and mustache . . ."
~ Major Cobbey:
"Mr. Treadgold, if you refuse to help me, you see before you a ruined man."
~ Daphne Wade:
"She was never seen alive again."
~ The living inhabitants of High Trees:
"The household consisted of her [Daphne's] stepfather, Henry Marton, a retired
rubber planter; her mother; a young man, Stephen Keithley, who was Marton's
secretary; a butler, Penruddock by name; a housemaid and a cook."~ Sergeant Cotter:
"Did Mr. Treadgold have any ideas for intensifying the hunt after the killer?
They were checking up on the lunatic asylums; combing the woods."
"If a fellow's no hero to his valet, George, he's still less a hero to
"The irresponsible crime is always the hardest to trace. The lunatic
kills without motive and, without a motive to work from, reason is left floundering."
"What are the three causes of all obscurity and confusion in the mind
of man? [Quoting Tristram Shandy]: The answer is, dull organs, in the
first place; secondly, the failure to receive impressions when the organs
are not dull; and thirdly, a memory like a sieve. Meaning that a lot of
things in life besides dreams go by contraries, George.""The criminal mind always flies to opposites, my friend."
"Not a very tidy case, George, for, instead of starting out from a
motive, as I like to do, I had to work back to one.""A fellow who falsifies nature has usually other things to hide as well."
Resources and references:
- "Mr. Treadgold is always quoting Tristram Shandy": "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, also known as just Tristram Shandy, is a novel by Laurence Sterne. It was published in nine volumes, the first two appearing in 1759, and seven others following over the next seven years . . ." (Wikipedia HERE). Oddly enough, Sterne's novel also figured into an episode of the Perry Mason TV series (HERE).
- "She breeds Pekes": A popular kind of dog. "The breed was favored by royalty of the Chinese Imperial court as both a lap dog and companion dog, and its name refers to the city of Peking (Beijing) where the Forbidden City is located." (Wikipedia HERE).
girl. So young, and to die like that. Ye gods!": Misquoted from Poe's "The Philosophy
of Composition" (1846; Wikipedia HERE).
- "a huge Alsatian bounded out, barking and snarling at us": Now universally known by
its original name. "The breed was officially known as the Alsatian in the U.K. from after
the First World War until 1977 when its name was changed back to German Shepherd." (Wikipedia HERE).
- "I'd dye my hair like Charley Peace used to do": Very slippery, that one. "The police issued a description that was somewhat inaccurate, and had to be altered. But in any case, Peace was changing his appearance, concealing his missing finger with an ingenious prosthetic arm, and moving around the country to try to avoid detection." (Wikipedia HERE).
HERE) is best known as the purveyor of espionage thriller-dillers; Williams had definite ideas about his chosen genre (ONTOS HERE); also see our posting about his novel The Yellow Streak (1922; ONTOS HERE), his own contribution to "the body in the library" subgenre.
- Other tailors who are more than they appear to be include Garak (1993-99; HERE) from
Deep Space Nine and Harry Pendel from The Tailor of Panama (2001; SPOILERS; HERE).
(1) Footsteps at Night (serial), The American Magazine, June 1935, etc.
(2) "The Red-Bearded Stranger," The Strand Magazine, November 1936 (above)
(3) "The Singing Kettle," The Strand Magazine, December 1936
(4) "The Blue Ushabti," The Strand Magazine, January 1937
(5) "The Dot-and-Carry Case," The Strand Magazine, February 1937
(6) "The Black F," The Strand Magazine, March 1937
(7) "The Strange Disappearance of Edith Marless," The Strand Magazine, April 1937.
You can find Roy Glashan's collection of Valentine Williams's works, a WIP at the moment, (HERE).