A classic Agatha Christie short story, available individually for the first time as an ebook.Mr. Satterthwaite and Colonel Melrose are comfortably ensconced in the Colonel’s study temperately listening to each other’s differing passions when the phone suddenly interrupts them. Someone has been murdered and the Colonel, the county chief constable, is going to let Satterthwaite accompany him to the scene of the crime. But, such differing fellows have, as imagined, rather opposing outlooks on why Sir James Dwighton has been bashed over the head with a blunt instrument. But when Mr. Quin appears, Satterthwaite is delighted as ever and soon regales him with his romantic impression of the facts at hand. In the ancient house of Alderly the red haired beauty Laura Dwighton and the couple’s guest, the very attractive Mr Paul Delangua have, rumour has it, engaged in an illicit affair and he has been thrown out by the disgruntled Sir James. But the facts of the murder all seem to add up too nicely and what’s more everyone is confessing to it.
The Love Detectives
A Short Story
by Agatha Christie
Published by HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd 1 London Bridge Street London SE1 9GF www.harpercollins.co.uk (http://www.harpercollins.co.uk)
Copyright © 2011 Agatha Christie Ltd.
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EPub Edition © 2011 ISBN: 9780007452118
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The Love Detectives
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The Love Detectives
‘The Love Detectives’ was first published in the USA as ‘At the Crossroads’ in Flynn’s Weekly, 30 Oct 1926, and then as ‘The Magic of Mr Quin No. 1: At the Cross Roads’ in Storyteller, December 1926.
Little Mr Satterthwaite looked thoughtfully across at his host. The friendship between these two men was an odd one. The colonel was a simple country gentleman whose passion in life was sport. The few weeks that he spent perforce in London, he spent unwillingly. Mr Satterthwaite, on the other hand, was a town bird. He was an authority on French cooking, on ladies’ dress, and on all the latest scandals. His passion was observing human nature, and he was an expert in his own special line – that of an onlooker at life.
It would seem, therefore, that he and Colonel Melrose would have little in common, for the colonel had no interest in his neighbours’ affairs and a horror of any kind of emotion. The two men were friends mainly because their fathers before them had been friends. Also they knew the same people and had reactionary views about nouveaux riches.
It was about half past seven. The two men were sitting in the colonel’s comfortable study, and Melrose was describing a run of the previous winter with a keen hunting man’s enthusiasm. Mr Satterthwaite, whose knowledge of horses consisted chiefly of the time-honoured Sunday morning visit to the stables which still obtains in old-fashioned country houses, listened with his invariable politeness.
The sharp ringing of the telephone interrupted Melrose. He crossed to the table and took up the receiver.
‘Hello, yes – Colonel Melrose speaking. What’s that?’ His whole demeanour altered – became stiff and official. It was the magistrate speaking now, not the sportsman.
He listened for some moments, then said laconically, ‘Right, Curtis. I’ll be over at once.’ He replaced the receiver and turned to his guest. ‘Sir James Dwighton has been found in his library – murdered.’
Mr Satterthwaite was startled – thrilled.
‘I must go over to Alderway at once. Care to come with me?’
Mr Satterthwaite remembered that the colonel was chief constable of the county.
‘If I shan’t be in the way –’ He hesitated.
‘Not at all. That was Inspector Curtis telephoning. Good, honest fellow, but no brains. I’d be glad if you would come with me, Satterthwaite. I’ve got an idea this is going to turn out a nasty business.’
‘Have they got the fellow who did it?’
‘No,’ replied Melrose shortly.
Mr Satterthwaite’s trained ear detected a nuance of reserve behind the curt negative. He began to go over in his mind all that he knew of the Dwightons.
A pompous old fellow, the late Sir James, brusque in his manner. A man that might easily make enemies. Veering on sixty, with grizzled hair and a florid face. Reputed to be tight-fisted in the extreme.
His mind went on to Lady Dwighton. Her image floated before him, young, auburn-haired, slender. He remembered various rumours, hints, odd bits of gossip. So that was it – that was why Melrose looked so glum. Then he pulled himself up – his imagination was running away with him.
Five minutes later Mr Satterthwaite took his place beside his host in the latter’s little two seater, and they drove off together into the night.
The colonel was a taciturn man. They had gone quite a mile and a half before he spoke. Then he jerked out abruptly. ‘You know ’em, I suppose?’
‘The Dwightons? I know all about them, of course.’ Who was there Mr Satterthwaite didn’t know all about? ‘I’ve met him once, I think, and her rather oftener.’
‘Pretty woman,’ said Melrose.
‘Beautiful!’ declared Mr Satterthwaite.
‘A pure Renaissance type,’ declared Mr Satterthwaite, warming up to his theme. ‘She acted in those theatricals – the charity matinee, you know, last spring. I was very much struck. Nothing modern about her – a pure survival. One can imagine her in the doge’s palace, or as Lucrezia Borgia.’
The colonel let the car swerve slightly, and Mr Satterthwaite came to an abrupt stop. He wondered what fatality had brought the name of Lucrezia Borgia to his tongue. Under the circumstances –
‘Dwighton was not poisoned, was he?’ he asked abruptly.
Melrose looked at him sideways, somewhat curiously. ‘Why do you ask that, I wonder?’ he said.
‘Oh, I – I don’t know.’ Mr Satterthwaite was flustered. ‘I – It just occurred to me.’
‘Well, he wasn’t,’ said Melrose gloomily. ‘If you want to know, he was crashed on the head.’
‘With a blunt instrument,’ murmured Mr Satterthwaite, nodding his head sagely.