Thursday, January 19, 2012
Superintendent Wilson’s Holiday - G.D.H & Margaret Cole
Story: Superintendent Wilson’s Holiday
Author: G.D.H & Margaret Cole
Source: The Oxford Book of English Detective Stories, Superintendent Wilson’s Holiday (Queen’s Quorum title #77).
Story Number: 19
Superintendent Wilson has been coaxed by his friend and medical adviser Michael Prendergast to go on a holiday and as a result they both find themselves exploring the coast of Norfolk. On the second day of their trip, half a mile from the beach across the cliffs, they come across a ruined cottage and a solitary tent. Wilson notices these unique features about the tent: One side of the tent is torn, the bed inside is wet though the tent isn’t, there are half burned cheque-books, there is a blood stained knife and there is a bucket outside which doesn’t have any water even though it has rained. Wilson is able to deduce a lot of things from these details and he believes that the two men who occupied the tent are still somewhere in the vicinity with at least one of them being dead.
When they reach the cliff edge, they find a suicide note on a rock; down below, a dead body with a slit throat and with a razor beside it. 2 bloodstained weapons for 1 body? All this points to a badly bungled up murder made to look like a suicide. He closely inspects the sets of footprints present and points out a strange anomaly (which is succinctly explained with a detailed map):
a. 2 sets of prints are seen from the road to the tent
b. 1 set of prints from the tent to the cliff with deep impressions of the feet to suggest he was carrying the dead body
c. 1 set of prints back from the cliff to the tent
d. Same set of prints seen going from the tent towards the road (opposite direction to that of the cliff) but it has the same deep impressions!
With a little bit of background information about the two people involved (and a few others), it is revealed that one of them had forged a check for a huge sum and hence could have resulted in a quarrel between the two men and led to the grisly event. But none of this fools Wilson. He quickly exposes the criminal who would have plotted a much more sinister and clever murder than that meets the eye!