Friday, February 10, 2012
The Cyprian Bees - Anthony Wynne
Theme for the Week: Queen’s Quorum Titles
Story: The Cyprian Bees
Author: Anthony Wynne
Source: Sinners Go Secretly (Queen’s Quorum #74)
Story Number: 41
Anthony Wynne is known for his locked room murders and impossible crime novels which number more than 20. While some of them deal with clever puzzle plots, the critics have had issues with his style of writing – the writing in most of his books border closely on the fringes of dullness; at times it’s very repetitive and at times it’s too pedantic and at times the solutions are highly improbable!
Anthony Wynne has only 1 collection of short stories to his credit and looks like it’s one of the hardest to lay your hands on from the Queen’s Quorum list – the cheapest copy that I see online is for around 120 dollars! One story “The Cyprian Bees” from this collection is highly anthologized for its unique murder method.
Inspector Biles approaches Dr. Eustace Hailey with an unique problem – a woman is found dead in a completely closed car having died of shock or heart attack. She had been bitten by a Cyprian bee. He also produces a wooden box for the doctor’s perusal – a box which held 4 such bees when it was found near the Piccadilly Circus. The police expert has studied the bees and has given a verdict that only a mad man would carry it on him as it contains only worker bees which are known for their notorious ill behavior. What the police can’t understand is the connection between the death and the bee – surely a bee sting would not induce death?
The doctor explains how this could be achieved via the method of an anaphylactic shock – a process where in if a human being receives an injection of serum or any extract, a tremendous sensitiveness is apt to develop towards that substance – a further injection of the same material or even consuming it orally a month down the line could lead to serious ill effects. Using this knowledge, the doctor opines that the police should be able to find the culprit if they look for a doctor in a certain London locality, who is staying away from his wife (from another clue) and is also a bee keeper. The police fail to unearth any such person and it falls upon Dr. Hailey to solve the case for them by concentrating on the human nature aspects & on the individuals involved in the case.