Thursday, November 29, 2012
Death Among Friends - Cyril Hare
Story: Death Among Friends
Author: Cyril Hare
Source: Death Among Friends & Other Detective Stories
To quote Michael Gilbert from the introduction to this title: The other way, in which the crime story differs from its more lawful kin, is that it is often presented as a conjuring trick. The narrative is but a piece of entertaining patter, designed to fix your attention upon the conjurer’s right hand, whilst his left hand is palming the black-jack with which he plans to hit you in the final line. To my mind Cyril Hare had very few equals at this.
One of the very succinct stories which best exemplifies the above praise is the title story. Sir Charles Gilray, the Chairman of the Wimblingham Motor-works was cordially detested by most of his subordinates. But in case of Powell, the chief engineer at the works, he had aroused a feeling of loathing which could be assuaged by nothing short of murder! Powell had only one true friend in his colleague McDougall! McDougall’s wife and Sir Charles are lovers. Rapidly and methodically, Powell makes his plan to avenge both(himself & his friend) at one blow.
The circumstances present itself when Sir Charles introduces the shift system. He took advantage of this system to visit Sylvia on evenings when McDougall was taking a turn of night duty. Powel ascertains that during these visits, Sir Charles is careful in letting the car rest in a lonely lane. Powell’s plan is rig up the brakes on one such night which would lead to the accidental death of his arch nemesis – but in spite of his brilliant design, things go horribly awry and the story concludes with a typical O’ Henry style of ending.