Monday, January 21, 2013

The Calico Dog - Mignon Eberhart

Story: The Calico Dog
Author: Mignon Eberhart
Book: The Cases Of Susan Dare
Theme for the Month: Locked Room or Impossible Crime Stories
Idabelle Lasher has inherited millions of dollars from her husband which she needs to pass along to her long lost son who disappeared along with his nurse some 20 years back. First to turn up is Dixon with a very convincing story about how he remembers playing with the house pet - the Calico dog – a fact which no one else other than the Mother knows. Next to turn up is Duane – with exactly the same story about the Calico dog and an additional story about a rare family heirloom to prove that he is her son. The widow has her friend Major Briggs to seek advice from but his choice of Duane as the legitimate heir doesn’t convince her. She has no other choice but to call in Susan Dare to help her identify her real son.
Both the gentlemen have been thoroughly investigated and no evidence exists to suspect foul play. With nothing much to go on, Susan Dare requests her host to declare one of them as the legal heir and that she would transfer the title with immediate effect. This announcement, she expects, would bring out some disturbance in one or both men and would help in revealing the true identity of the heir. The party on the next day would turn out to be the climax to this drama. Susan & Mrs. Lasher part the company of the three gentlemen near the soothsayer’s door and but they quickly return back to the room where they parted when they hear a shot being fired. Major Briggs is found shot to death with no weapon nearby and no sign of the two gentlemen. The young men left the room at the same time, none was seen entering the room and none was seen leaving the room after the shot was fired. Susan Dare has to do some quick thinking to stop further catastrophe, the impossible trick as to how the major was killed is explained by the murderer himself but it is the lady detective who reveals the true heir.
Identifying the real heir forms the major plot element for most part of the story and is fairly and most skillfully clued. The impossible crime scenario comes in as a bonus towards the fag end of the story and is very quickly explained away – neither too complicated nor extraordinary in its conception.

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