This excerpt is from the book entitled The Frisby Waterless Murders, an English Murrder Mystery book set in the countryside, starring two policemen who have been working together for a few years and get along really well. There’s lots of dialogue and banter with some humour thrown in amongst the murders and suspects.
Knowles stroked his chin and looked at Barnes, who winced at the implication of what he’d just heard.
“So that could mean one or two murder attempts. What could have caused the puncture in his hand, Dr Crabtree?” asked Knowles.
“Well, it looks like one of those pins you stick in noticeboards could have been used, but if you stick one of those in your hand they sting, so the Major would have noticed…”
“…unless he was being distracted” continued Barnes
“…by the smoke coming into the carriage” said Knowles
“or if he was being helped to his seat by the steward and someone bumped into them as apparently happened twice,” said Barnes, “the steward didn’t notice who it was on either occasion.”
“Those pins can be hidden between your fingers and the point still sticks out, so you could just touch someone’s hand with your own and no one would think anything other than it was an affectionate gesture,” said Knowles.
“The wound in the neck was administered with more force so I am guessing a dart was used as we don’t have any other evidence at this stage,” continued Dr Crabtree, “but you would have thought the Major would have noticed.”
“Unless the curare administered by the hand wound was already taking effect,” said Barnes.
Knowles looked at Barnes and wondered how his Detective Sergeant knew about curare.
“On the other hand,” continued Barnes, “if the dart was blown when the smoke was coming into the carriage the person blowing the dart could have removed it straightaway because the Major would have had more pressing matters to attend to.”
“Yes, breathing for a start,” said Knowles.
“Well, gentlemen,” said Dr Crabtree, “I would like to continue my investigation of the victim, so I will leave you to your discussions.”
Knowles indicated to Barnes they should leave. Once outside, Knowles asked Barnes how many murderers he thought there were.
“Well, sir, one murderer and one attempted murderer technically because the two wounds to me indicate two different people at two different times. Do you think there’s just one?”
“I do, Barnesy, but that’s more hope than anything – I hope that the murderer jabs the Major in the hand at the beginning of the trip but then sees no apparent effect so fires a dart at him just to make sure.”
“That’s incredibly risky and would mean the smoke in the carriage was no accident. It was all part of the plan.”
“With two murderers it is still part of the plan; it’s just a different person who’s done it. And with two, even if we find out who did it, how do we prove which of the two administered the fatal blow? Was the hand wound the fatal one or the neck one? It could be that individually there was not enough curare in either of the two wounds to kill him, but the combination of the two wounds was enough to push him off this mortal coil. Does that make them both murderers?”
“I believe it does, sir, but we would have to ask our lawyers. The best thing for us would be if they both confessed.”
“Which is highly unlikely. We will have to prove this. Somehow.”