Saturday, March 27, 2021

"The Detective Had Not Touched the Right Spring To Open Her Mouth"

"The Croyden Mystery."
By William MacLeod Raine (1871-1954).
First appearance: The Popular Magazine, August 7, 1921.
Short short story (7 pages).
Online at (HERE).

     "The evidence pointed straight to him but sometimes signposts are not true."

Even a rookie cop can make a professional look like—well, a rookie cop . . . .

Main characters:
The victim:
~ J. Wilkes Hungerford:
  "Shot from behind. Probably never knew who killed him."
The suspects:
~ Helen Radway:
  "From her throat came a sound that was half a sob and half a moan."
~ Roger Belding:
  "His hand kept twisting the knob on the end of my chair back. It came off in his hand."
~ Terry Haddon:
  ". . . was seen to leave the building by the janitor . . ."
~ The Clarendons:
  ". . . lived in apartment No. 46."
The law:
~ Evans:
  "It's a straight open and shut case, chief."
~ The desk sergeant:
  "Better lay off the kid. One o' these days he'll either knock you cold or show you up for a boob."
~ The chief:
  ". . . turned to Barney, again with the sardonic grin that expressed his attitude toward life."
~ Barney O'Hara:
  "In his notebook he jotted down certain cryptic words and others less enigmatic."

Comment: The author vitiates the suspense by accusing the murderer before the sleuth introduces all of the evidence against the suspect, making the big reveal anticlimactic—and the police surgeon stays strangely stum about everything. Poirot's style had a much more dramatic flair (e.g., Death on the Nile).
References and resources:
- "Maxim silencer": Hiram Percy Maxim, a brilliant inventor, "is credited with inventing and selling the first commercially successful firearm silencer, and also with developing mufflers for internal combustion engines." See Wikipedia (HERE) and Forgotten Weapons (PDF; HERE).
- "We finished the rubber": As card games go, bridge has more complexities than usual; see Wikipedia (HERE).
- Oddly enough, William MacLeod Raine, an Englishman, is most remembered for his Western fiction, but as FictionMags tells us (HERE) he wrote in other genres; see the Wikipedia article (HERE) for more.

No comments:

Post a Comment