That settles it, thought Smith savagely. He shall be murdered, even if I have to do it myself!
The Hardstaffe family are not the nicest people in the world. In fact, he – schoolteacher, lothario and bully, she – chronic malcontent – and their horsey unmarried adult daughter seem to be prime candidates for murder. A writer planning these deaths, on paper at least, and a young girl, chased by old Hardstaffe, are the only outsiders in a deliciously neat, but nasty, case.
Blue Murder was the last of Harriet Rutland’s mystery novels, first published in 1942. This new edition, the first in over 70 years, features an introduction by crime fiction historian Curtis Evans.
‘(A) newcomer of exceptional promise’ Howard Haycroft
Miss Hardstaffe was quite worried at having no word from you.” “I was—detained,” explained Arnold. “Well, as a matter of fact I bumped into the first raid London has had for some time. In a way, it has something to do with my visit to you now.” He paused for a moment, then, “I’ve come to give myself up for murder!” he said. The Superintendent and the Constable exchanged quick glances. “Perhaps you’ll sit down, Mr. Smith,” said Files, pushing forward a hard, wooden chair. “Now, murder, you
And Miss Hardstaffe looked at me and said soft-like, ‘All right, Mrs. Burns. I’ll see to it.’ But, you seer she didn’t do anything after all, and now look what it’s come to! He murdered his poor wife, did Mr. Hardstaffe, so’s he could wed the girl, and she got sick of him and murdered him. Fair asked for it, too, he did, carrying on with a girl young enough to be his granddaughter. Well, I’ve seen her come through that door, winter and summer, day in and day out, and I reckon that next time I see
right enough,” he said, “but I really haven’t thought about it very much. I can’t say that I regret his departure or consider it inappropriate. He seemed to me to be the kind of man who is a blight upon the face of the earth, and it was about time someone bumped him off. As to who did it—well, almost everyone he knew hated the sight of him. Perhaps they all got together and drew lots.” “Do you think that boy’s father might have done it?” “Old Ramsbottom?” exclaimed Richards. “Oh, good Lord, no!
minute—some Service duty, you know. Such a bore, because it completely ruins our numbers for dinner; and you’ve had all the trouble of getting a bedroom ready. I’m awfully sorry, but there it is!” “But—well, it sounds funny to me,” remarked Leda. “Of course I know he used to be Regular Army and got the M.C. in the last war, but he’s only in the Home Guard now, isn’t he? I don’t see what duty could possibly crop up to keep him away like this.” “You’d be surprised,” replied Stanton. “I know the
expect you to believe it. I mentioned my mother’s letter because I intended to say that I had done what it asked. But when he asked outright if I’d come to the house that night, my courage gave out, and I funked telling him.” “And that’s the only other lie you’ve told us, Mr. Hardstaffe?” “Yes.” “H’m,” said Driver again. There was a pause. “Don’t you believe me?” demanded Stanton. “Well, sir,” said the Inspector slowly. “There’s that little matter of your presence here on the night of your