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 suspect is Ingrid. I have mentioned Ingrid before. She is Sir Adam’s daughter by his first wife. She and her father are quarreling over her engagement, which I have already talked about in the post Eli’s Elusive Engagement. But! Ingrid has another, related motive, which I haven’t yet touched on. I will now do so. Ahem.
Ingrid is an intelligent and willful woman of nineteen. Sir Adam is a horrid old pig in late middle age. Right there, the alert reader may spot part of the problem between them. They do not get along. They quarrel constantly. Still, Ingrid is Sir Adam’s only child, and so, until recently, Sir Adam had always assumed he would provide for her in his will. In fact, the will current at the time of Sir Adam’s murder does provide for her.
It is certainly lucky for Ingrid that Sir Adam died when he did. Because he was in the process of drawing up a new will, which cut her out more or less completely. I believe the new will would have left her a tea set. And not a nice tea seat. The nasty one reserved for the Vicar and other guests with a known tendency to break things.
Ah, but I hear you asking if Ingrid knew that she was about to be disinherited. This is a good question. Sir Adam told her he would do it, when they quarreled over her engagement, but of course she didn’t listen to him. He’s been threatening to disinherit her for years, and Ingrid has long since ceased taking him seriously. It is just a thing he says when he is angry.
Ingrid didn’t think any more of her father’s threats until about a week before Sir Adam’s death. The family solicitor, who thinks of Ingrid as the daughter he never had, was a touch indiscreet at a recent luncheon with the young lady. In fact, he gave her very full information on the subject of the new will, even going so far as to indicate that the tea set was not a valuable one. He knew it was his duty as a solicitor to say nothing, but he felt that it was his duty as a man to speak. He spoke.
And then… Sir Adam died. Was murdered. The timing looks bad, for Ingrid. The solicitor himself suspects her, though he tries to tell himself that the thing is impossible.
Did Ingrid kill her father, so that she could both marry the man she loves and inherit a nice chunk of the family fortune?
And that’s it for Ingrid! As for her guilt… I think she makes an excellent red herring. But no really nice book would have her as the killer. What do you think?
It would be unforgivable for Eli’s love to be the murderess or a second victim. And if anyone else did suspect her, Eli would, as you’ve said, never fail in his faith of her innocence. But the reader could forgive them both for being discreetly relieved by the timing of Sir Adam’s death.
Yes, I think we’ll skip the mutual suspicions in the case of Eli and Ingrid. And I definitely envision Eli and Ingrid as surviving this story, and perhaps providing the wedding at the end of the book. If it is the kind of book to end with a wedding. And yes, I bet they are both relieved at Sir Adam’s convenient death. But they seem to be in good company there…
Ditto all the comments under Eli for why it is impossible that Ingrid could be the real murderer. However, any number of vital clues could be withheld by well-meaning but irritating gentlemen (including the solicitor) thinking they’re shielding Ingrid but in fact interfering with finding the true culprit. (But Eli will not be one of those overly-chivalrous gentlemen because, as we’ve mentioned before, that’s just annoying. Plus, he doesn’t believe she did it and thus doesn’t believe she needs shielding.)
No, the real murderer is Aunt Ursula (Hattie’s mother?) who was going to get the tea set in the previous will, but would not get it under the new will. Because as much as Sir Adam disliked that tea set, Ursula actually loves it dearly because it reminds her of their mother, whom Sir Adam never properly respected.
Yes!!! I love the idea of the bumbling solicitor, ineptly trying to protect Ingrid from the consequences of what he fat-headedly believes to be her deed. OR! What if the solicitor, in fact, did it? What if he is the killer, and all of his fat-headed bumbling protecting of Ingrid is really designed to get everyone to suspect her??? Could the man really be as inept as I am currently imagining him to be, except on purpose??? Total excitement!
I like your suggestion about Aunt Ursula, especially since my “U” slot is as yet sort of up for grabs. I have a few ideas about “U,” but the one I like best is perhaps a little too silly even for this story, and I have been wobbling. Hm… well, we will see!
And perhaps the tea set was the one used for nursery tea when Adam, Gregory, and Ursula were young and innocent children, before life and its accompanying bitterness had come between them. It could represent, for Ursula, a happy, peaceful time, before her brother became such a raging jerk. Really, I get quite sentimental, thinking of it.
Oooh, I like the solicitor’s “bumbling” being all part of the calculation! I look forward to hearing his motive in due course.
Is there anything too silly for this story? Is “too silly” really a problem we’re worrying about now? I may have to readjust my thinking on some things!
…you make a good point… and, on reflection, I’m going with no. Nothing is too silly for this story. I do have a lot of letters to get through still, and I bet some of them are going to be very silly indeed!