Thursday, February 3, 2022

"That Dog! That Dog!"

LOCKED ROOM MURDERS are, as a rule, the bête noire of regular policemen, who much prefer the straightforwardness of a spontaneous rit of fealous jage that usually results in an easily cleared case—"the simple answer," as Poirot would say; however, Joe Müller, Secret Service detective of the Imperial Austrian police, might prove to be an exception to the rule as he avidly launches into . . .

"The Case of the Golden Bullet."
By Auguste Groner (1850-1929).
Translated by Grace Isabel Colbron (1869-1948).
First appearance: Unknown.
Novelette (21 pages as a PDF).
Online at Project Gutenberg (HERE).

     "It’s stranger still how Fellner could have been shot, for the window-shutters were fastened and quite uninjured, and both doors were locked on the inside."

That's baffling enough, but how about that fatal bullet? It's glaringly obvious that whoever fired it didn't merely want to kill but was also very determined to make a statement . . . .

Main characters:
~ Professor Paul Fellner:
  "My enemy is very bitter. But I am not ready to die yet."
~ Commissioner Horn:
  "It’s strange that he should have found time to lay down the revolver before he died."
~ Johann Dummel:
  ". . . shivered at the thought that he might have seen his master sitting at his desk, already a corpse."
~ Joseph Müller:
  "We have to do with a murder here. There was not a shot fired from this revolver, for every chamber is still loaded. And there is no other weapon in sight."
~ The doctor:
  ". . . take care that you don’t make a mistake again, my dear Muller. It would be likely to cost you your position, don’t forget that."
~ Chief of Police Bauer:
  "Don’t let them disturb you, my dear Müller; we will allow your keenness all possible leeway here."
~ George:
  "There are no secrets about it. Everybody knows that they were a very happy
couple . . . "
~ Nanette:
  ". . . looked at him in horror."
~ Councillor Leo Kniepp:
  ". . . did keep his promise."

Comment: While this is an honest attempt at a classic locked room mystery, you'll see for yourself why it isn't a fondly remembered classic locked room mystery.

Here's the "moment":
   "The commissioner saw nothing but the usual humble business-like manner to which he was accustomed—then suddenly something happened that came to him like a distinct shock. Muller stopped in his walk so suddenly that one foot was poised in the air. His bowed head was thrown back, his face flushed to his forehead, and the papers trembled in his hands. He ran the fingers of his unoccupied hand through his hair and murmured audibly, 'That dog! that dog!'"

Typo: "Mr. Joseph Mullet".

References and resources:
- "built in the fashionable Nuremberg style, with heavy wooden doors and lozenged-paned windows"; see The Architect (HERE).
- "on my name day": A big deal in many countries:
  "In Christianity, a name day is a tradition in some countries of Europe and the Americas, and Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox countries in general. It consists of celebrating a day of the year that is associated with one's given name. The celebra-tion is similar to a birthday" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "enormous grey Ulmer hound": Most of us know the breed as the Great Dane:
  "When the breed first came to the United States and was exhibited at dog shows, it was listed as the 'Siberian,' 'Ulm Dog,' or 'Ulmer Mastiff,' possibly because Ulm is a city in the federal German state of Baden-Württemberg" (National Purebred Dog Day HERE; also see Wikipedia HERE).
- Wikipedia tells us that "Auguste Groner (née Kopallik; 1850−1929) was an Austrian writer internationally notable for detective fiction. She also published under the pseudonyms Olaf Björnson, A. of the Paura, Renorga, and Metis. . . . Around 1890, she turned to crime fiction, creating the first serial police detective in German crime literature, Joseph Müller, who appears for the first time in the novella 'The Case of the Pocket Diary Found in the Snow', which was published in 1890. Outside of Austria, she is most known for her crime stories" (Wikipedia HERE).
- For Goodreads readers' reactions to our tale go (WARNING! POSSIBLE SPOILERS! HERE).
- It looks as if this story was filmed in 1917 in German as Die Goldene Kugel; the scanty facts about it are on the IMDb (HERE).

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