Happy 4th of July to my fellow Americans! I am on the home stretch of this chapter-by-chapter reading and the closer I get to the end, the more annoying it is to stop and write down what passes for thoughts in my head. If you’ve read thus far, you’ll have learned I’m not very good at this.
Chapter 16 – HM lunches at his club with Tarlaine, his Watson. Tarlaine does something very un-Watson-like. He points out that given Guy’s position at the shutter, he must only have been able to see a small part of the room, so whatever happened must’ve happened there. HM yowls, calling himself an ass and a fool, but really calling any reader who hasn’t figured it out these things. He yelled out corns!, blood in a bowl, chicken soup. I can’t remember anything about chicken soup. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, they’ve found a hypodermic in the mattress. Fortunately no one seems to have been stabbed with it. It belonged to Guy.
Chapter 17 – If Dr. Arnold wants to do in Guy and frame Mantling, he really should have waited until he was married. And yes, curare is scrapable. Or dissolvable which amounts to the same thing. Maybe Isabel got tired of primogeniture, but then she shouldn’t have left the hypodermic in the mattress. No one should have. And why they didn’t treat it as a crime scene and search it properly, I don’t know.
And then Isabel has a story to tell — how she was so terrified she couldn’t move and she couldn’t possibly tell it again and oh! you won’t arrest him, will you?! If she’s faking it, fine. If it’s real, she’s a drip. Pathetic. They’re all sort of pathetic except Judith. And I find I can’t tell you what she said because it’s just too spoillerrific. If it’s true, case is apparently solved. If she’s lying or mistaken somehow, well there’s still 3 chapters to go. And if neither of them did it, how will they live with each other after this? If true, it’s extraordinarily stupid. And the explanation for that would be, I suppose, madness, but that’s ridiculous because the murderer has been clever enough to do away with someone in a locked room in such a manner that even the method is a mystery. Would that person then keep all the evidence in an obvious place? Unlikely. I think we’re down to Dr. Arnold here. Or Sir George. Though why Sir George would do anything I have no idea. It’s all done with hypnosis. Yeah, that’s it.
Chapter 18 – Everyone goes to dinner. And now, finally, HM the scarlet fool, will tell howdunnit. All are to gather at the family manse and he reveals… Bender had some dental work done. And that’s why there was blood in the bowl! I remembered the chicken soup after HM pointed out Bender took no solid foods at dinner. So, ingesting curare would have been problematic for a man with bleeding gums, but it’s still too quick working to have been in the soup.
Why did the post-mortem not mention there was a cut in his mouth? Misleading I call it. The whole time they go on about how there’s not a mark on him except the nick from shaving. Bit of a cheat.
Chapter 19 – “What post mortem man would ever spot a little thing like that”? Okay, I don’t know. Any medical examiners reading this? Would you find a lanced gum? Not that I’ve heard of that, so maybe they don’t do it anymore.
Okay, here’s a first. A Carr solution I can actually… believe.
Chapter 20 – Well, the final wrap-up takes place in HM’s attic. This plot involved a heck of a lot of luck, but that’s not really a flaw. Okay, it feels like a flaw. I like a villain that almost succeeds because he or she is clever, not because they get lucky, but that’s a personal preference, not really a problem with the story.
It is tricky to try to write all one’s thoughts as one reads a book. Since it takes days to read, one doesn’t only think while reading and even those thoughts captured while reading aren’t complete. But I do think this is pretty much how it goes with most mysteries I read. I have an inkling or two. Sometimes I guess part of a plot. But largely it’s a lot like this. I think of the person whodunnit because I think about everyone, but I don’t know whodunnit. Nor how it happened in this case. Until HM (or whoever it happens to be) reveals all.
If you were hoping to find out the end without having to read it, I suppose I could email you, or it might be in Wikipedia. It’s an enjoyable book, I’d recommend it, but not spending too much on it. Hopefully, someone will reissue them.