Some of Bev's Favorite Quotes...

Attention All Challengers! here on the Block has been, shall we say, challenging since I got back from vacation. I cam back to work to no computer (not hooked up after our office move) and my laptop at home has gone on strike. It looks like the Check-in Posts for the Just the Facts & Mount TBR challenges will wind up happening at the end of July instead of the regularly scheduled mid-point. But they are coming. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Affacombe Affair

According to legend, Monk's Leap is a site near Affacombe where one of the Priory's brethern had leapt over the edge, hotly pursued by the Devil in the guise of a beautiful woman. The monk was said to have landed safely on a rock midstream in the River Sinnel below. Years later, no such miracle happens for Sister Roach, a nurse at the school which now makes up most of the Priory's building and grounds. The nurse goes missing one afternoon during a Games Day and her body is discovered at the bottom of the cliff. Investigation by the local police reveals the nurse to have been an experienced blackmailer and it would seem that she got hold of the wrong end of a blackmailing stick. Maybe more than one stick--for they soon find that Sister Roach had several victims on her blackmail list. The only trouble is they all either have unshakeable alibis or there is no proof that they were on the spot when the nurse was pushed.

When Chief Detective Inspector Tom Pollard of the Yard is called in, he discovers that her blackmailing ways have, indeed, been the cause of her death....but not in the way his colleagues thought. In one particular case, she thinks she sees one kind of improper behavior going on, but it winds up that what she has seen is a cover-up for another crime. The criminal decides that even though she hasn't spotted the real reason for what she's seen that she must be eliminated before she figures it out. The entire plot is centered on a case of mistaken identity and that mistaken identity--deliberately manufactured by the criminals in aid of an alibi--more than her blackmailing activities cause her death.

 In The Affacombe Affair (1968) by Elizabeth Lemarchand, the disguise employed is meant to provide an alibi for those engaged in a completely separate crime. It leads to murder...and finally to another round of make-up artistry (on the part of the police this time) which is used to jolt the villains into giving themselves away. Disguise plays a triple part here--as alibi (for both the initial crimes and the murder), as motive, and finally to facilitate the solution.  

It was very interesting to see disguise--or at the very least, identity misdirection--used in more unusual ways. This novel addresses the idea of identity in a manner that allows the author to play with alibis and motives and to add an extra layer of mystification to the plot. Very enjoyable for those looking for a little different twist on the idea of disguise and misdirection. Lemarchand also provides the reader with well-defined characters--from Pollard and his assistant Sergeant Toye to the local detectives to the inhabitants of Affacombe. There is a Miss Marple type--not a spinster, but still an observant widow who seems to be everywhere and to pop up with useful clues whenever Pollard needs a nugget of information. Mrs. Strode may not solve the crime herself, but she certainly provides much of the straw with which Pollard can construct bricks to build his case. ★★★★

This fulfills the "Policeman" category on the Silver Vintage Scavenger Hunt card.

1 comment:

fredamans said...

Sounds alright, but I doubt I'd pick it up.