Sunday, February 5, 2012
The Killing of Michael Finnegan - Michael Gilbert
Story: The Killing of Michael Finnegan
Author: Michael Gilbert
Source: The Oxford Book of English Detective Stories
Story Number: 36
In addition to the classic mysteries that he started off with (Smallbone Deceased is highly regarded by one and all), Michael Gilbert experimented with a lot of different genres – two of the most notable being police procedurals and spy stories. He created three main series characters - Patrick Petrella, Inspector Hazlerigg and the duo of British spies; the two collections ‘Game Without Rules’ & ‘Mr. Calder and Mr. Behrens’ featuring the two British spies are considered to contain Gilbert’s best short stories.
Michael Finnegan, a close friend of Calder & Behrens and working for the British Intelligence has been found dead in mysterious circumstances. Though there is no doubt as to who killed him, Calder & Behrens suspect that the reason could be because of what he was working on at the time of his death which could be very important to the British and hence they decide to find out what it was. Finnegan’s wife tells them the name of the person who betrayed him; with some third degree measures on this traitor, they get to know that the reason he was killed was because he came to know about the assassination plot of a superior court judge.
They know who the target is but they don’t know exactly how the assassination is going to be carried out; during the detrimental torture tactics, they just get a few ramblings from the traitor with respect to the means, where he mentions only 2 words of importance – ‘court’ & ‘reports’. Calder takes up the role up studying the court security measures to identify how anyone could smuggle a bomb into the court. Behrens takes up the role of talking to the security forces, questioning them about the loopholes in their security procedures and suggestions to overcome them. Between the two of them, with their observations & the 2 clues which they have in their possession, they figure out the way in which the attempt is gone be made and the rest of the story deals in outwitting their adversaries.