Friday, November 6, 2020

"It's Up to You To Stop a Murder"

GATHERING ALL THE SUSPECTS together in the library might sound a trifle old fashioned in the 21st century, but for our space-faring sleuth it's one step in helping to 
solve a . . .

"Mystery in the Milky Way."
Super Detective Library No. 91, 1956.
Graphic novel (64 pages).
Online at Comic Book Plus (HERE).

     "P-p-pets d-d-di-didn't k-k-ki-kill redded . . ."

A daredevil aerospace designer and pilot has had no fewer than nine attempts on his life and is determined to find out who's doing it. The Prime Minister calls in Rick Random to investigate . . .

Cast of characters:
~ Sir John France:
  "I'm tired of being a clay pigeon. I'm going to solve this thing myself!"
~ Lady Alice France:
  "This is a list of all the people who hate you."
~ Dr. Marius Fisher:
  "He's made up his mind that one of them is the potential killer . . . and he's got them together in an isolated place to discover which."
~ Admiral Jose Henderson:
  "He's impatient when he thinks others are slow or inefficient. He needs handling, m'boy - with kid gloves."
~ Rusty Rogers:
  "Heck of a mess, Rick!"
~ Layne Gilbert:
  "What body? Are you crazy?"
~ Dr. Frank Wunsak:
  ". . . was jealous of Sir John . . ."
~ Princess Edwina:
  "It's crashing into the house!"
~ The Altron of Trovean:
  ". . . hates all Earthmen."
~ Drinda Filoos:
  ". . . blames Sir John for her son's death."
~ Captain "Black Jack" McLain:
  "If they have no luck they'll likely take pot shots at each other."
~ Lieutenant Dudley Brains:
  "Here he is!"
~ Gronge Hord:
  "Dead! Who killed him?"
~ Harvey France:
  "Meaning, ol' boy, I am now Sir Harvey France and all that goes with it."
~ Wilda North:
  "Oh, no! Not John!"
~ Miss Jacks:
  "As Rick studied the projecto-model map of Shangri-La, Miss Jacks supplied details."
~ Rick Random, Chief Trouble-shooter for the Interplanetary Bureau of Investigation:
  "This case has almost too many leads to follow."

Typos: "dexopod elephants" [should be decapod]; "wierd sense of humour"; "well let".
References and resources:
- "the Procyon planetary system": A real star: "Procyon is the brightest star in the constellation of Canis Minor and usually the eighth-brightest star in the night sky, with a visual apparent magnitude of 0.34. It has the Bayer designation α Canis Minoris, which is Latinised to Alpha Canis Minoris, and abbreviated α CMi or Alpha CMi, respectively. As determined by the European Space Agency Hipparcos astrometry satellite, this system lies at a distance of just 11.46 light-years (3.51 parsecs), and is therefore one of Earth's nearest stellar neighbours." (Wikipedia HERE and HERE).
- "the third planet of Sirius": "Sirius appears bright because of its intrinsic luminosity and its proximity to the Solar System. At a distance of 2.64 parsecs (8.6 ly), the Sirius system is one of Earth's nearest neighbours. Sirius is gradually moving closer to the Solar System, so it will slightly increase in brightness over the next 60,000 years. After that time, its distance will begin to increase, and it will become fainter, but it will continue to be the brightest star in the Earth's night sky for the next 210,000 years." (Wikipedia HERE and HERE).
- "a native of Jupiter": Unlikely: "Jupiter is primarily composed of hydrogen with a quarter of its mass being helium, though helium comprises only about a tenth of the number of molecules. It may also have a rocky core of heavier elements, but like the other giant planets, Jupiter lacks a well-defined solid surface." (Wikipedia HERE and HERE).
- The origin of a certain type of knife also figured into the plot of a Star Trek episode; see Wikipedia (WARNING! SPOILERS! HERE) and ONTOS (HERE).
- Here's "the moment" again:
  "The pieces of the puzzle had suddenly fallen together. In Rick's mind everything now pointed to one person . . ."
- Here is Andrew999's comment about this story:
  Rick [Random] finds himself in line to solve a locked-room (well, locked-island) mystery in this intriguing thriller where the victim apparently dies twice. It’s a textbook example of how to create a murder mystery – create seven suspects, each with an eccentricity and each with a motive to kill. Invent an intriguing way for the victim to die with an unusual weapon. Brew a few real clues with a few red herrings – share your time equally amongst the suspects with occasional summaries from the investigator so everyone can follow. Build up to a hellfire chase scene and an explosive finish. Rick pulls it off superbly - job done! Intrigued by the concept of driverless automatic flying cars with programmable destinations, I discovered they already exist – in Dubai! Another successful Rick Random prediction – I make that 137 in a row. Can’t help feeling Miss Jacks deserves a bigger role – what a stunner!

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