I Dial It In And Tune the Station*

With today’s technology, it’s very easy to contact people in other countries. So, we often take that ability for granted. But that hasn’t always been the case. It wasn’t until 1905, for instance, that wireless transmission between Europe and North America was commercially available. The advent of international wireless communication meant that it was far easier and less costly to broadcast, and to send messages.

Police in different countries have, since then, used wireless transmission (and, today, of course, email and other electronic communication) to do their jobs, even when a suspect crosses international borders. We certainly see that in cases of true crime.

For example, Dr. Harvey Hawley Crippen was arrested, convicted, and executed for the murder of his wife. There are arguments that he was innocent, and some people believe that a grave miscarriage of justice happened in this case. What isn’t in dispute, though, is the way in which Crippen was caught. He saw that the police suspected him, at least for a time, and decided it would be best to flee the UK. So, Crippen and his mistress, Ethel ‘Le Neave’ Neave, made plans for a transatlantic journey to Canada. They were on board the Montrose when its captain identified them, although Le Neve was disguised as a boy. The captain used wireless communication to contact Scotland Yard. Inspector Drew, who’d been investigating this murder, boarded another ship, which followed after the one which carried Crippen and Le Neve. The papers got wireless updates on how close the two ships were, and reported the news when Drew boarded the Montrose, and arrested Crippen. For a fascinating perspective on the Crippen case, you’ll want to read Martin Edwards’ Dancing For the Hangman, which is a fictional account of the murder and its investigation, told mostly from Crippen’s point of view.

In Agatha Christie’s Lord Edgware Dies, Hercule Poirot uses wireless communication to help solve the murder of the 4th Baron Edgware, who was stabbed in his study. The most likely suspect is the victim’s wife, famous actress Jane Wilkinson. But she says she was at a party in another part of London at the time of the murder, and there are twelve people who are ready to swear in court that she was there. So, Poirot and Chief Inspector Japp have to look elsewhere for the killer. At one point, Poirot learns of a letter that may be relevant to the case. The author of the letter lives in America, but Poirot uses wireless communication to get in contact, and to arrange to see the letter. It turns out to be very important to solving the case.

Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö’s Martin Beck series begins with Roseanna. In that novel, a young woman’s body is dredged up from Lake Vättern. There’s no identification, and no-one has reported a missing person who matches that description. Eventually, though, she is identified as twenty-seven-year-old Roseanna McGraw, an American who was touring Sweden at the time she was murdered. At the same time, Lieutenant Elmer Kafka of the Lincoln, Nebraska police is working on Roseanna McGraw’s case from another angle. She’s been reported missing, and he’s trying to locate her. When he and Martin Beck get in contact, they’re able to pool resources and, in the end, get answers to their questions. And it’s all made possible through wireless communication.

Carolina Garcia-Aguilera’s series features Miami-based PI Guadalupe ‘Lupe’ Solano. Her parents moved their family from Cuba to Florida after Fidel Castro’s rise to power. Since that time, the family’s settled into South Florida. But they’ve held on to their Cuban culture. They speak Cuban Spanish, retain their Cuban cultural ways, and so on. And Solano’s father dreams of the time when he and his family can, as he sees it, go home. Because of the relations between the US and Cuba, it’s very difficult to get a lot of reliable information about what’s happening in Cuba. But there are commercial and private radio transmissions, and Solano’s father listens to them constantly. He wants to be completely ready if word comes (as he hopes it will) that Castro is out of power and it’s safe to return to Cuba.

Wireless radio transmission is an essential for communication in areas such as Canada’s Far North, where many places are inaccessible, and where telephones and Internet connections aren’t always possible. We see that use of radio to solve crimes in several books that take place in that part of the world. One of them is M.J. McGrath’s White Heat. In it, we are introduced to Ellesmere Island hunting guide Edie Kiglatuk. She’s a champion guide, so it’s a real shock when one of her clients, Felix Wagner, is fatally shot. His companion, Andy Taylor, claims he’s innocent, and there’s evidence to support him. So, the incident is put down to a tragic accident. Edie isn’t so sure it was an accident, but she knows that if she causes trouble, the local council will revoke her guide license. So, she goes along with this explanation on the surface. But she still has concerns. She contacts Sergeant Derek Palliser, the senior of Ellesmere Island’s native police officers, and shares her misgivings. There’s not much he can do at first, but then, there’s a disappearance. And a suicide that very well could be murder. Now, it’s clear that something very big is going on. Each in a different way, the two sleuths look for answers, and in the end, we learn the truth about these three incidents and how they’re connected. Throughout the novel, we see how wireless radio is used to connect with others and get information.

We may not think about it very often, especially with the prevalence of the Internet and other forms of communication. But international wireless radio has played a really important part in crimes and their solution, but real and fictional. And it still does.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Wall of Voodoo’s Mexican Radio.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Carolina Garcia-Aguilera, M.J. McGrath, Maj Sjöwall, Martin Edwards, Per Wahlöö

In The Spotlight: Anne Holt’s The Blind Goddess

Hello, All,

Welcome to another edition of In The Spotlight. Anne Holt’s Hanne Wilhelmsen series has gotten a great deal of critical and popular praise. And it’s a solid example of a Scandinavian police procedural series. It’s about time one of the novels appeared in this feature, so let’s do that today, and turn the spotlight on The Blind Goddess, the first of the Hanne Wilhelmsen novels.

As the novel begins, Oslo attorney Karen Borg is walking her dog one day when she discovers the mutilated body of an unknown man. Shortly thereafter, a Dutch student living in Oslo is discovered wandering around, covered in what turns out to be the victim’s blood. He refuses to say anything, though, about the crime or his role in it. He behaves very oddly, but not threateningly, and insists that he will say nothing unless Karen Borg represents him.

It’s a bizarre request, considering that, for one thing, Borg found the body. For another, she is not an expert at criminal cases. But, when Police Attorney Håkon Sand explains that the police have no real case without the Dutchman’s cooperation, she agrees to talk to him. When she does, he tells her that his name is Han van der Kerch, and he admits to murdering the dead man. He won’t say why, though, and he is otherwise not very communicative.

Without their suspect’s cooperation, Sand and his colleague, Detective Inspector (DI) Hanne Wilhelmsen, have to start at the very beginning to identify the dead man and connect him to van der Kerch. After some work, the victim is identified as a small-time drug dealer named Ludvig Sandersen. It’s still not clear what van der Kerch’s motive is, but there could be many reasons for killing a drug dealer. They’re working on that case when another murder is reported. This time, the victim is an attorney named Hans Olsen. At first, there seems no connection between the two dead men. But then, Wilhelmsen discovers that Sandersen was Olsen’s client. Then, a man named Jacob Frøstrup dies of an apparent overdose while he’s in police custody.

Wilhelmsen believes that these three incidents are related, but she and Sand can’t find the link among them. But they start to make some progress, and they soon discover two important things. One is that the trail of this investigation leads to some very high places, so the police will have to move very, very carefully. And they’ll have to be absolutely sure of their evidence. The other is that someone is determined that Wilhelmsen and Sand will not find out the truth. This leads to serious danger for both them. They’re going to have to build an airtight case, and stay alive, if they’re going to solve these murders. And what they find will have serious implications for several important people.

This is a police procedural. So, the case is solved through gathering evidence, talking to witnesses and suspects, looking through files, and so on. The novel was published in 1993, so Wilhelmsen, Sand, and the other team members don’t have access to today’s extensive internet or to social media. That said, though, they do use computers for some data searches. There is disagreement now and then between Wilhelmsen and Sand. And there is a little concern about the police politics involved in the case. That said, though, this novel doesn’t have the ‘patch wars,’ professional jealousy, police corruption, and sabotage that so often are a part of police procedurals.

Sand is an attorney. So is Borg, and so are other several other characters in the novel. So, readers also get a look at the legalities of arresting someone in Norway, holding that person, preparing for hearings, and the like. It’s not a legal mystery, but the novel does touch on these issues. It’s also worth noting that there is discussion of what the police may and may not do when they build a case. Part of Sand’s job, and that of his supervisors, is to ensure that the police don’t do anything that could be taken apart in court by a skilled attorney for the other side. In that sense, readers who prefer their police procedurals to be accurate (in terms of what can and cannot happen during an investigation) will be pleased.

The story is told from several points of view, including Wilhelmsen’s, Sand’s, Borg’s, and some of the other characters. Readers who prefer only one perspective will notice this. There are times, too, when the point of view isn’t identified at first. But it doesn’t take long for it to be clear whose perspective is being shared. Through this strategy, we learn about the main characters.

Wilhelmsen is skilled at her job, and has earned the respect of her colleagues and bosses. But she keeps her personal and professional lives strictly separate. Everyone knows her, but she doesn’t have a close friendship with anyone, even Sand. She has a stable relationship with her partner Cecilie, although they do have their disagreements. Readers who are tired of drunken, dysfunctional, or ‘maverick’ police will appreciate Wilhelmsen. As the series goes on, several story arcs impact her life, but in this novel, she is happy in her job, and relationship, and pleased at her promotion. She can be morose at times, but she also has a dark sort of wit.
 

‘…they [Wilhelmsen and Sand] were grinning all the way to the car, which Hanne had rather cheekily left on the pavement outside. She’d put a police sign behind the windscreen to lend legality to her inconsiderate parking.’

 

The Blind Goddess is a police procedural with a legal angle to it as well. It has a clear Oslo setting, and introduces a competitive and determine investigator. But what’s your view? Have you read The Blind Goddess? If you have, what elements do you see in it?

 
 
 

Coming Up On In The Spotlight

 

Monday, 23 October/Tuesday, 24 October – The Mask of Dimitrios/A Coffin For Dimitrios – Eric Ambler

Monday, 30 October/Tuesday 31 October – Above Suspicion – Lynda La Plante

Monday, 6 November/Tuesday 7 November – Nunslinger 1 – Stark Holborn

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Filed under Anne Holt, The Blind Goddess

In Loyalty to Our Kind*

In Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, Hercule Poirot solves the stabbing murder of wealthy American businessman Samuel Ratchett. The victim is killed on the second night of a three-day trip across Europe on the famous Orient Express, and the only possible suspects are the other passengers in the same car. One of those passengers is Princess Natalia Dragomiroff, a formidable elderly lady whose strength is in her personality. At one point in the story, she has this to say:
 

‘‘I believe…in loyalty – to one’s friends and one’s family and one’s caste.’’
 

She’s not alone. Being loyal to the members of one’s group is a highly-valued trait, and that makes sense if you think about it. People depend on other group members for a lot, including, at times, survival. So, it’s important that groups stick together, as the saying goes. And there are sometimes very severe penalties for breaking that rule. Loyalty matters, but it can sometimes go too far, and that can make for an interesting layer of character development in a crime novel. It can also allow for plot points.

For example, one of the cardinal rules of the Mafia and of other criminal groups is what the Mafia has called omerta – silence. Every member is expected to keep quiet about the group’s activities, or about anyone else who might be involved. That’s how one proves loyalty to the group. We see that, for instance, in Tonino Benacquista’s Badfellas. In that novel, Fred and Maggie Blake and their two children move from the US to a small town in Normandy. The four settle in and begin the process of getting used to an entirely new culture.  But all is not as it seems. ‘Fred Blake’ is really Giovanni Manzini, a former member of the New Jersey Mob, who testified against his fellow mobsters in court. Now, he and his family are in the US Witness Protection Program, and have been resettled in Normandy for their own protection. The plan is successful enough, until word of the Manzini family’s whereabouts accidentally gets back to New Jersey. Now, Manzini could very well pay a terrible price for his disloyalty.

Police officers depend on each other, sometimes for their lives. That’s one reason why there’s such a premium placed on loyalty to other officers. In many cases, that’s part of the ‘glue’ that holds the force together. But this loyalty, too, can be taken too far. In Y.A. Erskine’s The Brotherhood, for instance, we are introduced to Sergeant John White of the Tasmania Police. One afternoon, he is called to the scene of a home invasion. With him, he takes probationer Lucy Howard. They’re investigating at the house when White is stabbed to death. The most likely suspect is seventeen-year-old Darren Rowley, who already has a history with local law enforcement. The other officers are loyal to White, and want to mete out their own kind of justice. But the media is paying very close attention to this case, and everyone knows that if they don’t do everything exactly ‘by the book,’ there’ll be a lot of trouble. It’s all complicated by the fact that Rowley is part Aboriginal. All of the police know that the least misstep on their part will lead to accusations of racism. It’s clear throughout the novel, though, that loyalty to each other and to White impacts all of their choices. There are many other crime novels, too, where loyalty to other police officers comes into play (I’m thinking, for instance, of James Ellroy’s L.A. Confidential and David Whish-Wilson’s Line of Sight). This is part of the reason for which so many police officers are biased against Internal Affairs and other internal investigation groups.

There’s also the tendency for people in elite groups to protect themselves and one another. We see this, for instance, in the work of Qiu Xiaolong. His Chief Inspector Chen Cao lives and works in Shanghai at the end of the 1990’s/beginning of the 21st Century. Chen is respected, and has an important position within his police department. However, he isn’t at the very top of the proverbial tree. That place is reserved for the elite of the Party – the High Cadre people. Those individuals make all of the important decisions, and displeasing them can lead to the end of a career, or sometimes worse. High Cadre families are loyal to each other and protect one another, and would far rather police themselves than have independent investigators look into their business. Chen is very well aware of the power the High Cadre people have, and their tendency to be loyal to their sociopolitical group. So, when his investigations lead to high places, as they often do, Chen has to move very carefully.

And then there’s family loyalty. Most of us would agree that being loyal to one’s family is a highly valued trait. In crime series such as Timothy Hallinan’s Philip ‘Poke’ Rafferty novels, we see this loyalty in action. Rafferty is a ‘rough travel’ writer who lives and works in Bangkok. He also happens to be very good at finding people who don’t want to be found. That’s why he’s in demand when people are looking for someone in hiding. Rafferty’s married to Rose, a former bar girl who now owns an apartment cleaning company. Rose loves her husband and adopted daughter, Miaow. But she is very loyal to her family of origin. Here’s what she says about it to Rafferty:
 

‘She [Rose] turns to face him. ‘We have ten dollars left,’ she says. Her voice is so low he has to strain to hear it. ‘Miaow is hungry. My little sister up north is hungry. Who gets the ten dollars? … I would send the money to my sister,’ Rose says. ‘Without a minute’s thought.’’
 

Of course, family loyalty can create all sorts of obstacles to criminal investigation, too. In many crime novels, people don’t want to talk to the police about their siblings/parents/cousins/etc., because those people are family members.

But that’s the thing about loyalty. Like most other human traits, it’s a proverbial double-edged sword. It’s valuable to an extent, and in many situations. On the other hand, it can also be tragic.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Jefferson Airplane’s Crown of Creation.  

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Filed under Agatha Christie, David Whish-Wilson, James Ellroy, Qiu Xiaolong, Timothy Hallinan, Tonino Benacquista, Y.A. Erskine

Too Much Information Running Through My Brain*

Part of the reason that people enjoy historical fiction is that it can give really interesting information about a particular time and place. That’s part of why, for many readers, it’s important that their historical fiction be accurate. They want to learn from it, which is hard to do if it’s not realistic.

But that presents a challenge. Even if you don’t read much historical fiction, you probably know that many periods of history haven’t been exactly pleasant. Wars, disease, high infant mortality, lack of hygiene, and plenty of other factors could make life miserable. That’s especially true for those who were poor or otherwise disenfranchised. At the same time as readers of historical fiction want realistic depictions, they may very well not want unrelenting misery. So, what’s the balance? How can an author depict a particular historical period honestly, yet in an engaging way? Everyone has a different idea of what ‘counts’ as the right amount of realism. But here are a few examples of books and series that strike that balance.

Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites is the fictional retelling of the story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, one of the last people to be executed for murder in Iceland. The novel takes place beginning in 1828, when two farmers, Natan Ketilsson and Pétur Jónsson, are murdered, allegedly by Agnes Magnúsdóttir, Friðrik Sigurðsson, and Sigrídur ‘Sigga’ Gudmondsdóttir. The three suspects are found guilty, and are sentenced to death. It’s decided that, rather than spend the money to keep Agnes housed in a prison, she will be sent to live with District Officer Jón Jónsson, his wife, Margrét, and their two daughters, Steina and Lauga. There, so it’s believed, she will benefit from living with a ‘good Christian family’ for her last months. And the government won’t be responsible for feeding and housing her. The family will benefit, too, from her work. As the story goes on, we slowly get to know Agnes, and we learn about her past, her relationship with the other two convicted of the crime, and their reasons. Throughout the novel, Kent is clear about what life was like at that time, and in that place, especially if you were a woman and a convict. There’s no glossing over. At the same time, the attention is on the story, rather than on every gritty detail.

One could say much the same thing about C.J. Sansom’s Matthew Shardlake series. Shardlake is a lawyer who lives and works in London during the reign of King Henry VIII. It’s a very uncertain time, with religious upheaval, political intrigue, and strained international relations. Life’s not easy for the average person; in fact, it can be quite bleak. And even those with means are not immune from disease, persecution, and more. Against this backdrop, Shardlake has to move very carefully. He knows he works at the pleasure of the king and his advisors. If he does anything to displease them, he risks everything. Sansom doesn’t make light of the grim realities of life at that time. That said, though, the focus is on the mysteries and the plot threads relating to them.

It is in Ariana Franklin/Diana Norman’s Adelia Aguilar series, too. These novels take place in the 12h Century, during the rule of King Henry II. Aguilar is a doctor, originally from the University at Salerno, who is summoned by the king to investigate a murder. Life at this time is grueling, especially for women and other disenfranchised people. In fact, for her own safety, Aguilar has to work ‘behind the scenes’ and pretend that the medical work is done by Simon Menahm – Simon of Naples – who came with her to England. It’s too dangerous for a woman to be involved in medical science. Superstition plays a major role in people’s lives, and that, too, makes life difficult. That’s not to mention the other hardships that people faced at the time. But the focus of these novels is on the cases at hand. It’s not that Franklin/Norman plays down the realities of the times. Rather, the emphasis is on the stories, instead of on the ‘gory details.’

Kate Grenville’s The Secret River tells the story of William Thornhill and his family, who move from London to Sydney 1806, when Thornill is sentenced to transportation for stealing a load of wood. The family makes a new start, with Thornhill earning a living by making deliveries up and down the local river. His wife, Sal, sets up a makeshift pub. Little by little, they settle in. But as they do, they come into increasing conflict with the people who were always there.  That conflict ends in some brutal atrocities. Although Thornhill wants no part of this sort of bloodshed, he soon sees that he’ll have to get his hands dirty if he’s to build a life on the piece of land he dreams of owning. Grenville is realistic about what it was like to be poor in London at that time, and later, what it was like to live in a penal colony. It’s dirty, exhausting, and sometimes very ugly. Lifespans are not long, and disease kills very quickly. That said, though, there isn’t exhaustive detail about the grimness of live. Rather, Grenville’s focus is on the story of how the Thornhill family makes a new life in Australia.

Brian Stoddart’s Superintendent Christian ‘Chris’ Le Fanu novels are set in 1920’s India, mostly in Madras (today’s Chennai). Life’s not really easy, even for the British, who are firmly in charge. It’s much more difficult for anyone else, especially the poor who happen to be Indian. Although there have been some medical advances, there’s still a high mortality rate. As is mentioned in The Pallampur Predicament,
 

‘If there was a scourge left for the British in India, it was illness in many forms.’
 

That said, though, Stoddart’s focus is the mystery at hand in each novel. There’s no glossing over some of the difficulties of life; at the same time, the novels don’t dwell on them.

That’s also arguably true of the work of other authors, such as Sulari Gentill, Gordon Ferris, and Felicity Young. It’s not an easy balance to strike. On the one hand, readers want realistic portrayals. On the other, most readers don’t want unrelenting bleakness. What’s your personal balance? If you’re a writer of historical crime fiction, how do you acknowledge the difficulties of life in other times without letting them overpower your plots?
 

ps. The ‘photo is from Abba Eban’s Heritage: Civilization and the Jews, and was reprinted there from the Bettmann Archives. It shows a tenement in New York’s Lower East Side not long after the turn of the 20th Century.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from the Police’s Too Much Information.

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Filed under Ariana Franklin, Brian Stoddart, C.J. Sansom, Diana Norman, Felicity Young, Gordon Ferris, Hannah Kent, Kate Grenville, Sulari Gentill

Where’s That Careless Chambermaid?*

When real and fictional police and PIs investigate, they try to get as much information as they can. Of course, they talk to family members, friends and co-workers, but even that doesn’t always fill in the proverbial blank.

A good detective can tell you that the real people to talk to when there’s a disappearance or a murder are people like restaurant servers and hotel chambermaids. And that makes sense if you think about it. A spouse or partner might not know about that ‘special guest’ in the hotel room, but the chambermaid will. The boss might not know how much someone drinks at lunch, but the server will. That’s part of the reason that the police work as hard as they do to trace a victim’s last days. Talking to people like porters, chambermaids, servers and so on can yield valuable clues.

Agatha Christie uses that plot point in several of her stories. For example, in Evil Under the Sun, we are introduced to Gladys Narracott. She works as a chambermaid at the Jolly Roger Hotel on Leathercombe Bay. She gets involved in a murder investigation when one of the guests, famous actress Arlena Stuart Marshall, is murdered. The first suspect is, as you’d imagine, the victim’s husband, Captain Kenneth Marshall. But he has an alibi for the time of the murder, and Gladys can corroborate that alibi. So, the police have to look elsewhere for the killer. Hercule Poirot is staying at the same hotel, and he works with the police to find out who the murderer is. And he discovers that Gladys has some useful information and insight to offer, just from what she’s learned about the guests as she’s tended their rooms.

In Dennis Lehane’s Gone, Baby, Gone, PIs Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro are hired to investigate the disappearance of four-year-old Amanda McCready. The child’s mother, Helene, claims that she doesn’t know who would have wanted to take her daughter; she also says, naturally enough, that she didn’t have anything to do with the abduction. But Kenzie and Gennaro follow up on every possibility, one of which is that Amanda was taken by someone Helene knows. There’s also the chance that Helene herself is responsible for whatever happened to Amanda. So, Kenzie and Gennaro trace Helene’s movements, and do what they can to find out about her background. And some of that information comes from the Filmore Tap, a very tough, seedy bar in Dorchester (Massachusetts). It turns out that Helene’s known there; and, although no-one says very much about her, the bartenders and owner know more than they want to tell.

Lilian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who Said Cheese takes place, as many of her novels do, in the small town of Pickax, Moose County, ‘400 miles north of nowhere.’ A mysterious woman has moved into town, and is staying at the New Pickax Hotel. No-one knows anything about her, although there’s plenty of speculation and gossip. One day, a bouquet of flowers arrives for this enigmatic guest. Part-time housekeeping aide Anna Marie Toms is on duty when the flowers arrive, and prepares to take them to the new hotel guest. Then, a bomb hidden in the bouquet goes off, killing Anna Marie. Shortly afterwards, the mysterious woman goes missing. Local journalist James ‘Qwill’ Qwilleran, Braun’s sleuth, starts asking questions, and he and local police chief Andrew Brodie find out who the woman is, and who the killer is.

Eva Dolan’s Long Way Home introduces us to the Peterborough Hate Crimes Unit, and to Detective Inspector (DI) Dushan Zigic and Detective Sergeant (DS) Mel Ferreira. They’re called in to investigate when the body of an unknown man is found in a shed belonging to Paul and Gemma Barlow. The man is identified as an Estonian named Jaan Stepulov, who was apparently in the UK as a migrant worker. It’s often not easy to find out information about migrant workers, since they don’t generally ‘put down roots’ or have close connections with locals. But Zigic and Ferreira get to work. One of their stops is Maloney’s, a pub right near the local bus station. It’s frequented by people just like Stepulov, and Ferreira finds that one bartender in particular has some very valuable information about the case.

And then there’s Qiu Xiaolong’s Enigma of China. In that novel, Chief Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police is faced with a challenging case. Zhou Keng, head of Shanghai’s Housing Development Committee, is suspected of corruption, arrested, and held to face charges. He’s housed in a Shanghai hotel, rather than in the local prison, because of his status. One morning, he is found hanged in his room. The official theory is that he committed suicide, rather than face the shame of corruption charges. And Chen is expected to ‘rubber stamp’ that theory. But some things don’t add up. So, Chen and his assistant, Yu Guangming, look into the case more carefully. They’re going to have to move quietly and delicately, since this is no ordinary death. But in the end, they find out the truth. And some of the clues they need come from an interview with one of the hotel attendants, Jun, whose information proves quite useful.

And that’s the thing about people such as room attendants, chambermaids, bartenders and other servers. We may not notice them, but they know a lot. And their help can be invaluable when the police are on a case.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Al Dubin and Henry Warren’s Lulu’s Back in Town.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Dennis Lehane, Eva Dolan, Lilian Jackson Braun, Qiu Xiaolong