The Great Detective


We are in the drawing room with the Great Detective. Everyone is assembled. All the family, the household staff, the weekend guests, anyone who has  been near this place since we found the body of poor old Aunt Charlotte last Friday evening.  It is time, it seems, for the grand finale.  This is the moment where he lines everyone up and unravels the mystery for us. This is the part where he explains exactly what has been going on, displays at great length every facet of his genius before eventually, finally pointing a finger at the murderer.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I very nearly didn’t come.  It’s a Sunday evening, after all.  I should be out on the golf course, or relaxing somewhere with a cigar and a brandy, not sweating away in here with the rest of the family.  Still, this detective fellow is a difficult man to say no to sometimes.  He has an oddly persuasive manner about him.  You find yourself agreeing to the oddest things.

Besides, it is rather in our interest to be here.  We are suspects after all and we know it.  We’ve all had to put up with a questioning and cross-examination from the man himself, as well as the usual clumsy prodding from the local constabulary.  Nobody, it is fair to say, has enjoyed the process.  All sorts of skeletons emerging from closets, you understand. You can’t imagine the feathers he’s been bristling this past few days.  It really has been marvelously enlightening!

God only knows how he gets away with it. You'd have thought there'd be rules against this sort of thing. Other people have to play it by the book, to follow procedure and whatnot, but none of that seems to apply to him. Genius makes its own rules, I suppose.  And he does have this habit of always, inevitably solving the crime. There is no puzzle, they say, that the great man cannot unlock, no code he cannot break. If there are jewels to be found, he will find them. If there is a plot to be stopped, he will stop it. Reading his press he comes across like some sort of all-seeing superman with a monocle and a waistcoat.  The flawless bloodhound who always, always gets his man.

All of which is a little bit worrying for me at this stage, to be honest. You see (and I do hate to spoil the surprise for you) I am the murderer.  It was me.  I did it.   So you can imagine how exceedingly disconcerting it is to have to sit here and watch him explain, in great detail and with no little flair, exactly how I managed to pull the thing off. Very worrying indeed.

So far, he has everything pretty much spot on. The motive - Aunt Charlotte's money, of course, and the threat of a horrid new codicil in that valuable old will of hers. The method - arsenic in the hot chocolate (I am so fond of the classics). The misdirection - putting the poison into Charlotte's secret brandy stash too, so as to make it look as though the murder might have taken place much earlier than it actually did. I have to say I'm very impressed. Even in my precarious situation I can't help but admire the skill with which he's picked it all apart.  He's even unravelled that little double bluff I set up - planting the arsenic bottle in my own luggage but cunningly making it look as though young Emma - the waiflike maidservant who has a thing for Cousin Stewart - must have put it there.





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