Saturday, January 26, 2013
Case of The Ivory Statue - Sax Rohmer
Story: Case of The Ivory Statue
Author: Sax Rohmer
Book: The Dream Detective (Queen’s Quorum Title)
Theme for the Month: Locked Room or Impossible Crime Stories
Paxton has been asked by a rich man to create a very fine duplicate of a rare statue of Nicris. To make the statue look even more resplendent, it is adorned with some of the most rare and antiquarian ornaments.
Paxton is carving the sculpture based on a beautiful model and the inkling of impending problems start when the model complains that the statue moved on its own and uttered ‘Nicris’ when she was alone (only once) with the statue. The statue is being given the final touches in preparation to be displayed at an exhibition before it is whisked away from the public eye to the hidden chambers of the rich man. Paxton invites three of his friends to dinner (which includes the narrator Mr. Searles) to display the almost completed statue which is intricately connected to the throne on which it is sitting. When asked as to what security arrangements have been made, Paxton confesses that there is no need for security as he is always present in the same room along with the statue.
Later that night, Paxton hears a voice outside the house chanting the lone word ‘Nicris’. He takes his gun outside, finds no one, the policeman who is keeping guard at the end of the road is still at his post who confirms that nobody entered the house nor left it and when Paxton returns back to his house, the throne is empty and the Ivory Statue has disappeared! He has spent only 30 seconds outside the house; he should’ve surely seen a person coming out if that person entered the house and surely such a big statue couldn’t have disappeared into thin air – dismantling it from its throne alone would have taken half an hour for the most skilled worker!
Moris Klaw, who is called in by Mr. Searles decides to spend the night on his customary vigil in that room to get the psychic photograph. Klaw reveals the next morning that his psychic photograph shows the Statue to have walked out on its own! Based on this knowledge, Klaw pursues his investigation - he uses his knowledge of the history of the antiques involved to good effect to add to his wonderful deductive capabilities to bring the culprits to justice.
The trick of the impossible disappearance is quite neatly done though the mechanics involved to pull it off seems a bit stretched – but who cares as long as the author can put forth an ingenious puzzle and back it up with an equally ingenious solution, one can only sit back and savor the delight of another grandest game unfurling before you!