Knock, Murderer, Knock!
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“I think,” said Palk slowly, “there’s a homicidal maniac loose in the Hydro, but who it is, God knows.”
Presteignton Hydro is a drably genteel spa resort, populated by the aged and crippled who relish every drop of scandal they observe or imagine concerning the younger guests. No one however expects to see gossip turn to murder as their juniors die one by one – no one, that is, except the killer. The crusty cast of characters make solving the case all the harder for Inspector Palk – until the enigmatic sleuth Mr. Winkley arrives to lend a hand.
Knock, Murderer, Knock! was Harriet Rutland’s sparkling debut mystery novel, first published in 1938. This edition, the first in over seventy years, features a new introduction by crime fiction historian Curtis Evans.
‘Very well written, intelligent story of triple murder... acid characterization’ Kirkus Reviews
say that I don’t see why you had to change it so suddenly from yesterday. I’m sure the doctor knows nothing about it. He knows that this is a very inconvenient time for me because I usually write in the mornings. I never could concentrate after luncheon.” Nurse Hawkins chose to be uncommunicative. “It was more convenient,” she said, and ushered her patient through the door marked “Electric-Room.” This room was small and severe, with no windows or skylight, so that, whatever the time of day, it
Napier was only imitating the murder last night. I suppose all this talk of reconstruction got on her nerves.” “But she wasn’t in the drawing-room when they were talking about it, according to the others.” “I know, but that doesn’t mean a thing in a place like this. The maid probably told her when she went to fetch Nurse Hawkins.” “She did have a steel knitting-needle in her hand, sir,” persisted Jago. “And stuck it into the arm of the settee for about an inch,” retorted the Inspector.
“It’s my fault!” she cried again. “I killed him! I said there ought to be another murder to make it more interesting. It’s a judgment on me. Oh, my God! I said it would be good publicity!” She allowed the nurse to take Bobby from her arms and place him gently back again on the ground, but it was Mrs. Marston who helped her to stand up, and coaxed her with infinite sympathy and understanding to move away on reluctant feet. Dr. Williams, grave and pale, joined the little group in the shrubbery,
described the whole scene thoroughly to her. I just docketed the fact until after Bobby’s murder. Then I did get a definite line on Miss Astill, but it was just luck. As you know, when Grace screamed I ‘happened’ to be nearest to the shrubbery, and naturally ‘slipped’ in to have a look!” He cast an expressive glance at the Inspector, and Palk wriggled unhappily in his chair. “All right, don’t rub it in,” he growled. “Well,” laughed Mr. Winkley, “I sent Colonel Simcox up to the house for the
excited and suffused, just as it did half an hour ago, and her expression was... well... gloating is the only word that expresses it. It was the look you might expect to see on the face of a priest who has just made a human sacrifice to Moloch, and it set me thinking backwards, in the way that one is taught to tackle geometry problems at school. I at once assumed that she was the murderess and, as she didn’t look normal, I assumed that her motive was abnormal too. I went back to Newton St. Mary