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BOOKS FOR JANUARYŚcontinued.
|will be unable to discover a solution. To
the uninitiated reader, all the stories seem to fit perfectly ; only
Poirot realises that the solution of the crime must lie in the fact that
they fit too well. *****
John Rhode's new book, The Robthorne Mystery, has also a very cleverly worked-out plot, and it is, of course, our old friend, Dr. Priestley, who finally solves the problem.
The basis of the story is a twin brother theme. Maurice Robthorne had rented a house at a little village called Milton Kirdmore, and like all strangers in a small country parish, he was looked upon with a certain amount of suspicion, though there was really nothing to inspire it. After he had been in residence for about a fortnight, his twin brother comes to stay with him ; on the night of November 5th, Guy Fawkes night, there is a noise rather louder than the explosions of fireworks which had been going on most of the evening, and Warwick Robthorne is discovered dead in the greenhouse, a shot-gun by his side and most of his face blown away. Although every possibility was thoroughly explored, there seemed to be no alternative to a verdict of suicide, and that was indeed the decision of the coroner and his jury.
However, it transpires later that Warwick Robthorne, had he lived, would have been arrested by Scotland Yard within a few days for dope trafficking.
SOLUTION OF THE AUTUMN CROSS-WORD
|Indeed, Inspector Hanslett was specially interested in
this reported suicide ; but though he went down to Milton Kirdmore
personally, he could find nothing in the evidence to shake the suicide
verdict of the coroner's jury. One evening he is giving his friend, Dr.
Priestley, an account of the case, rather afraid that there is not
enough in it to interest the professor, but hoping against hope that
something will come to light to show that he is after all not to be
robbed of the victim on whom his carefully prepared net had just been
Dr. Priestley is, as a matter of fact, fascinated at first by a solution of the problem other than suicide, but somehow he can find absolutely no evidence to support it. At first, he had thought that the dope-trafficker, Warwick, might have murdered Maurice, dressed up the murder to look like his own suicide, and then taken his twin brother's place. In fact, he was actually sufficiently intrigued to test his theory, but the suspected Maurice remained quite indubitably Maurice. But even if he could prove his theory, what would be the position in the eyes of the law ? There were two hypotheses : firstly, that a murder had been committed and that there had been no suicide ; secondly, that the identities of Maurice and Warwick had been transposed. Now, in the eyes of the law, Warwick Robthorne was dead, his will had been proved, while Maurice, his heir, was alive and had been granted probate of his brother's will. If the first hypothesis were found, and not the second, Maurice would be tried for the murder of Warwick. But what if, after conviction, Maurice himself produced evidence that he was really Warwick ? Could a murdered man be tried for killing his own murderer? Could Warwick be tried again, this time for the murder of Maurice, who could produce his appearance in the dock after the date of the alleged crime as proof that he had not been murdered ? Could Warwick, who is dead in the eyes of the law, be tried at all ? Such is the kernel of a situation which provides one of the most cleverly worked out mysteries that even Mr. Rhode
has given the CRIME CLUB
Mr. Roger East made his bow to CRIME CLUB
readers with that first-class detective story Murder Rehearsal, our Selection last July, and a very popular one too. This new author has amply borne out our judgment of his work in his new story, Candidate for Lilies. We have left ourselves little space in which to tell of this clever book, but can only say that it definitely deserves to be read alongside the two brilliant books we have just described.
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