Hello, and welcome to my 2019 A to Z Challenge! This year, I am giving you my personal list of Golden Age Mystery Tropes. Particularly clue-tropes, and also those tropes that an experienced mystery reader finds herself using to solve the mystery without reference to the actual clues.
For example, the experienced mystery reader will always sit up and take notice when she encounters…
The Respectable Family Solicitor
I looked round at the guests that my uncle had invited to this odd Christmas gathering. My eyes met briefly those of old Taverner, the respectable family solicitor who dealt with all the affairs of our disreputable family. I smiled, remembering how the old boy’d handled that breach of promise case for me all those years ago–and then I stopped smiling–for why was the fellow here now? Why had Uncle invited Taverner? They were not friends. Uncle didn’t care much for Taverner, and, of course, no-one could possibly care for Uncle. No, mutual esteem was basically out.
Then why was the fellow here?
When you have the family solicitor at a family party, it generally means one of two things. Either the wicked old uncle is about to draft a new Will or he’s just discovered that old Taverner’s been robbing him blind and plans to expose him. It can, of course, mean other things as well, but I generally at least start with these two possibilities in mind and see if they are supported by the text.
Why else, dear readers, might a respectable family solicitor be invited to a family party in a mystery novel? Please assume for purposes of this discussion that the solicitor is not on terms of friendship with the family. Also? Have you encountered any solicitors, mysteriously present at a family gathering, in any mystery novels you’ve read lately? Also? Hello! Leave a comment!