Sunday, December 27, 2020

Murder on the Bridge by Lynn Brock (1930)



Original title: Q.E.D.

About the author: Lynn Brock (1877-1943) was the pseudonym of Alister McAllister, an Irish writer. McAllister was born in Dublin and educated at the National University of Ireland, where he became Chief Clerk. He served in British Intelligence and in the machine gun corps during WW1. (gadetection)

Major characters:

  • Dr. Sidney Melhuish, overworked doctor
  • Barbara "Pickles" Melhuish, his wife
  • Simon Wyckham Melhuish, their son
  • Harry Halliday, their chauffeur
  • Colonel Wyckham Gore, good friend of Pickles, godfather to Simon
  • Gretta Higgins, tried for murder and acquited
  • Woodbine and Bullock, two tramps
  • Dr. Dorch, a money lender
  • Ross, Dr. Dorch's secretary
  • Anderson, Dr. Dorch's chauffer
  • Inspector Lord

Locale: England

Synopsis: Dr. Sidney Melhuish, a G.P. (General Practitioner), is called out on a foggy night to see Sir William Larmour. The doctor's wife, "Pickles", is out of town visiting her friend (?) Colonel Wyckham Gore. Chauffeur Harry Halliday takes the doctor to see his patient, across "The Bridge", a high suspension bridge running 250 feet above a busy river. The Bridge has a manned toll booth at each end, and due to construction economy, not lighted in the middle. 

Halfway across The Bridge, they are flagged down by a pedestrian who says a man is in need of aid on the sidewalk. Melhuish exits to render assistance, and disappears in the fog. Halliday loses track of him and cannot locate him. Leaving the car in the middle, Halliday walks back to the toll booth for assistance, but Melhuish cannot be found.

Later that morning, a boat crew finds Melhuish's body on the riverbank. He had been struck and thrown off the bridge. A routine check with Sir William Larmour reveals the call for the doctor was a hoax, and it appears the doctor was lured to the bridge.

A homeless tramp, Woodbine, is found dead on the local golf course, poisoned from a drink. In his pocket is a metal badge with Q.E.D. engraved on it. Nearby lives Dr. Dorch, a moneylender, with his secretary Ross and chauffeur Anderson.

Colonel Wyckham Gore and Inspector Lord come to see Pickles and investigate. They find letters on his desk with references to "Q.E.D." Is there a connection to Woodbine? Did someone want him dead? 

Review: This book immediately draws the reader into the scary world of a high suspension bridge on a foggy night. Much of the initial action takes place on the bridge. It is a page turner, and no sooner had I started then I was halfway through. 

Then, suddenly, the story turns to Woodbine the dead tramp and his Q.E.D. badge, and his connection to moneylender Dr. Dorch who lives nearby. Dorch has not been seen for a while, and is rumored to be in the US. He left his house in care of his secretary, Ross, and chauffeur Anderson; who are packing up Dorch's house as fast as they can. The story quickly bogs down on this note, with interminable following of cars and people, and even following of dogs. Several dogs play a part in the story, I could not figure out their significance.

The first half was great and suspenseful, the second half plodding. Much effort was placed on connecting the two deaths, but really was unnecessary. It seemed as if two separate books had been spliced together.

Note: The word chauffeur is written as 'shover' throughout. This homophone trick took a bit to figure out.

No comments:

Post a Comment