Monday, March 4, 2024

"The Dead Man I Can Understand. The Dead Parakeet Is What Bothers Me."

"Birds of One Feather."
Dr. Joel Hoffman No. 3.
By Arthur Porges (1915-2006; Wikipedia HERE; ISFDb HERE; Fan Site HERE).
First appearance: AHMM, January 1963.
Reprinted in No Killer Has Wings: The Casebook of Dr. Joel Hoffman (2017).
Short short story (8 pages).
Online at The Luminist Archives (HERE; go to text page 53).

   "It had to be right. And if so, there was still danger for innocent people; right now somebody could be near his death. I got on the phone fast."

A double murder, perhaps? But if we assume our killer doesn't generally have it in for parakeets, then why does he also eliminate such a harmless-looking individual, "a chubby fellow who might have been somebody's benevolent uncle by the look of him"?

Main characters:
~ Horton:
  "Beside him was a pathetic bit of fluff that was his parakeet."
~ Dr. Joel Hoffman:
  "Perhaps I should have given him a hint over the phone, but I had a sudden urge to spring it all at once, dramatically. Too much TV, maybe."
~ Lieutenant Ader:
  "On his own ground, Ader is unbeatable . . ."
~ Dr. Kurzin:
   "In my book he should be cutting meat for some supermarket."

The light dawns:
  "And at that moment, it was as if a flashbulb went off in my brain. The pieces fell together, and I knew the solution was very close."

References and resources:
- "not exactly a Spilsbury":
  "Sir Bernard Henry Spilsbury (1877–1947) was a British pathologist." . . . "The case that brought Spilsbury to public attention was that of Hawley Harvey Crippen in 1910, where he gave forensic evidence as to the likely identity of the human remains found in Crippen's house. Spilsbury concluded that a scar on a small piece of skin from the remains pointed to Mrs. Crippen as the victim." (Wikipedia HERE.)
- "if I found Albert Schweitzer dead":
  Schweitzer, alive at the time, was "an Alsatian polymath. He was a theologian, organist, musicologist, writer, humanitarian, philosopher, and physician." (Wikipedia HERE.)
- "as Pogo might say":
  "Pogo was a daily comic strip that was created by cartoonist Walt Kelly and syndicated to American newspapers from 1948 until 1975." (Wikipedia HERE.)
- "Canaries are highly sensitive to dangerous fumes; in mines they are used—or were—to detect fire damp and similar deadly gases":
  ". . . canaries, it turns out, are much more sensitive to carbon monoxide and other poisonous gases than humans. Around 1911, miners started carrying canaries into the mines with them, and they quickly became a metaphor for warning signs – when the canary keels over, it’s time to evacuate the mine before you become the next victim." ( HERE.)
- Porges used Dr. Joel Hoffman in three stories:
  (1) "Horse-Collar Homicide," (ss) Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, January 1960
  (2) "No Killer Has Wings," (ss) Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, January 1961 (featured HERE)
  (3) "Birds of One Feather," (ss) Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, January 1963 (above).
- Most recently we featured Porges's "The Cunning Cashier" (HERE).

Unless otherwise noted, all bibliographical data are derived from The FictionMags Index created by William G. Contento & edited by Phil Stephensen-Payne.

No comments:

Post a Comment