Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Singing Diamonds - Helen Mccloy

One of my main aims when I started this whole exercise in the New Year was to read at least 20 titles from the Crippen and Landru series. Though I’ve read two volumes this year, I haven’t really featured any story on the blog (actually holding them back for a later theme), which I plan to rectify now as I plan to cover stories from 3 other lost classic series(or maybe even 4) over the next 2 weeks.
And Hats Off to Douglas G. Greene and his team at Crippen & Landru in unearthing all these wonderful stories from oblivion and presenting it to the modern world at such affordable prices! And what a delight it is to treat oneself to one of these classic titles. Wishing, hoping and praying that C&L will continue their tremendous good work for a long long time and introduce us to numerous more gems!
Theme: Crippen & Landru Lost Classic Series
Story: The Singing Diamonds
Author: Helen Mccloy
Source: The Pleasant Assassin and Other Stories
Story Number: 109
I’d to skip the first story in this collection “Through a Glass, Darkly” as I would like to read the longer version of the same title – am pretty sure it would’ve been featured here a long time ago had it been a standalone story which didn’t have a corresponding longer version! That brings me to the second longest story in this collection “The Singing Diamonds”.
Mathilde Verworn wants to know from Basil Willing, the psychiatrist, whether there was such a thing as collective hallucination. Because, there were six people from six different locations in the country who testified to seeing strange diamond shaped objects in the sky, moving at alarming speeds and causing a humming noise as they pass. And four of those six have died in peculiar circumstances in the last 12 days. Mathilde’s husband happens to be an astrophysicist who is called on by various agencies to explain the strange phenomena of the singing diamonds. As a result, Mathilde has withheld her knowledge about witnessing the singing diamonds from general public. But now that four of them are dead, she is hoping that Dr. Willing could do something to save her!
When Dr. Willing consults a Naval Intelligence officer, he comes to know that all six who had publicly acknowledged seeing the singing diamonds were dead. The various investigative agencies couldn’t find any connection among those six, they couldn’t find any evidence to the existence of any scientific experiments or the rational explanation to the singing diamonds. However, they did establish a few interesting facts – all but one had been suffering from asthma and 3 of them were known to use ginger candies – two facts which convinces the psychiatric investigator that the reason for the deaths could be explained with a perfectly rational explanation than the science fiction theories and the paranormal theories that they were being attributed to!
Mathilde has confessed to seeing the singing diamonds with 4 of her family members and friends. Basil Willing invites himself to a dinner party featuring all these members. He challenges each of them to propose a solution to the mystery as the group involves 2 scientists, 1 mathematician and 1 psychiatrist! And the theories vary from a missile being tested by a foreign power to a scientific experiment being conducted by the local government to aliens trying to communicate with the earthlings! Basil Willing has his own complex explanation to the problem which is more earthly and more humanly. Though it sounds utterly fantastic and highly improbable, it nevertheless qualifies as one of the most diabolic and ingenious plans to have been conceived by a perpetrator!

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