Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Hand of God - Harry Stephen Keeler

Story: The Hand of God

Author: Harry Stephen Keeler
Source: 20 Tales of Murder (MWA Anthology Edited by Brett Halliday & Helen McCloy)
Story Number: 15
If the novels and stories of Harry Stephen Keeler have to be described in one word, the word that comes to mind is ‘Weird’. His stories are highly imaginative, unpredictable, unclassifiable & inexhaustible. And this story, which was written particularly for this anthology, is a fitting example which exhibits all these characteristics.
The first 2 parts of the story deal with the dream that is haunting the protagonist Carrew. He has been fantasizing for quite some time about a Chinese girl both in his dream and in his wakeful life. The dreams are beginning to worry Carrew as the girl in the dream is tending to get more aggressive as he starts preparing for his marriage in real life. One fateful night, he dreams that the girl has a Chinese dagger with her - which she plunges into his heart.
The 3rd part is the police investigation where they find the body of Carrew stabbed to death inside a locked room. All the evidence in the case points to the fact that it was a murder and not suicide.
The penultimate part of the story is most fascinating in describing the testimony of the Physician to the coroner’s jury of how this murder was committed. He explains all the evidence and the clues garnered at the site to build up his case to show that what first appeared as a supernatural death indeed has a rational explanation, which obviously, only Keeler could have thought of! The final part is of course the jury’s verdict.

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