Freddie’s Field #AtoZChallenge 2022 Murder Motives

Hello, and welcome to my 2022 A to Z Challenge! For a detailed explanation of my theme this year, see my theme reveal. But basically, I am exploring classic mystery novel murder motives, by making up a victim (Sir Adam Bracegirdle Clutterbuck) and then coming up with 26 characters who wanted to kill him. It is part genre exploration and part world-building exercise.

Today’s entry is Freddie’s Field—or the field that would be Freddie’s, if only Sir Adam would sell. He won’t, though. The deal was about to go through—Sir Adam’s pen hovered over the contract, dripping slightly down onto the line he was about to sign—when Freddie incautiously revealed why he wanted to buy Sir Adam’s field so particularly.

***

Freddie lives in a big old ancestral mansion to the west of Clutterbuck Court (where Sir Adam resides). And Freddie is tired of it all. He is tired of the big old house, which he cannot afford to maintain and which as a consequence grows shabbier by the day. He is tired of trying to farm his nutrient-starved lands. And he is just possibly also tired of the torrid affair his wife Josephine is carrying on with neighbor Sir Adam (if he knows about that).

Anyway, for lots of reasons, Freddie wants to move to a nice, convenient, modern flat in London. He’s wanted it for years, only he hadn’t found anyone to buy his old rat-trap. Until now. Just lately, he got an excellent offer for his place from some people who want it for a school. The only problem is, they needed a decent bit of the neighboring fields, too, or the deal was no go.

Sir Adam, having no use for the fields in question, was on the point of selling. Freddie was almost giddy with delight. He watched the pen moving ever closer to the agreement of sale. It seemed to shine at him. And then he opened his big mouth. In a burst of confidence, he told Sir Adam just what the sale would mean to him.

Sir Adam, hearing that his neighbor’s house would be turned into a school if he sold his land, quietly recapped the pen and tore up the contract. He is not a fan, he explained, of horrid small boys running all over the place.

Since then, the neighbors have been bitter enemies. Freddie feels thwarted, and he also feels trapped. This wonderful opportunity to sell his rambling old mansion is slipping away. There may never be another buyer. And, as I have said, he also might want to get his wife Josephine away from Sir Adam–the very man who is standing in the way of the sale.

There have been some quite public quarrels between the two men, since the day the deal fell through. Freddie can’t even look at Sir Adam without shouting something at him. His face flames red with anger at the very thought of the man. He has stopped using his morning room, because he can see Clutterbuck Court from one of the windows, and that is bad for his health. Besides, the room is in really disgraceful condition anyway. And that combination–the paint peeling around the window that frames the view of Clutterbuck Court–is just about the limit.

And, of course, if Sir Adam’s brother Gregory were to inherit the property, Gregory would probably be willing to sell that field.

The deal could still go through.

If only Sir Adam were to die.

***

And that’s it for Freddie! He seems to have a nice little packet of motives: the property dispute, the subsequent quarrel, and the affair. In fact, the only problem I can see with Freddie as the killer is that he has publicly quarreled with Sir Adam. Not smart, and usually people who publicly quarrel with people in books are innocent of their murder, because they land in the “too obvious” category.

Indeed, the only way I can see this one working is if Freddie is initially suspected of the killing because of the whole public-quarrel-with-victim thing, and then gets dismissed as the killer, because his motive doesn’t seem strong enough… but then it actually turns out that he is actually motivated by the affair, which he has just learned about. Or something like that.

What do you think? Can Freddie’s story be presented such that he is a satisfying murderer? Would he make an interesting second victim? If he is the second victim, how does that alter your suspicions?

 

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8 Comments

  1. I kind of like Freddie for this murder. not only for the monetary gains of purchasing the field from the dead man’s brother, but because he does know about his wife’s affair with Sir Adam. But he keeps it to himself, first because he really loves her and may feel he drove her into Sir Adam’s arms by his poverty and neglect of their home, and second because he is certain that if he can just get her away from Sir Adam, they will be happy living the social life in a grand apartment in London. He uses his public quarrels with Sir Adam as proof he could not be the killer — everyone knows he’s smarter than that. To carry out the grizzly deed, he comes up with a brilliant, undetectable time-delay method of death so that he may establish a foolproof alibi. It is simply unfortunate for him that the amateur sleuth is not a fool.

  2. I don’t see Freddie as a subsequent victim. We need him as an obvious suspect, and besides, I’m not seeing a motive. Freddie is my favorite suspect so far, but I’m also thinking Josephine… She probably doesn’t actually like Sir Adam, seeing as he’s unremittingly dreadful, and is only in the affair for the gifts of hockable jewelry (unless, of course, Sir Adam is BLACKMAILING HER.) She would really be enormously relieved to get away from Sir Adam and into a shiny little flat in London where she could live a nice, fashionable life without all the useless expense of maintaining some dreary country estate.

    • Freddie does make a decent suspect, I think. And yes, he shouldn’t be the second victim. As you point out, we need him! And you will hear more of Josephine soon…
      As for Sir Adam BLACKMAILING HER, that is a thought, but he probably can’t be blackmailing everybody. Probably. I mean, he is a fiend, so maybe he could… but to blackmail someone, you have to know their terrible secret, and how many terrible secrets could Sir Adam really know? …Possibly quite a few… hm…

  3. Well, Freddie seems like a perfect candidate as murderer, if I ma say. He has lots of reasons why he should come to that outcome.
    Though, he somehows strikes me as not very likely to have the cold mind to plan and then excecute a murder. Come on, letting the thing slip like that, when the pan was poised to sign.
    Mhm… I don’t know.

    @JazzFeathers
    The Old Shelter – Enter the New Woman

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