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 Leonard Toogood, Sir Adam’s solicitor. I mentioned him before, in my post about Sir Adam’s daughter Ingrid. He was terribly indiscreet about Sir Adam’s new will over a luncheon. And this has had consequences for him, as you will learn.
Leonard Toogood is, to all outward appearances, exactly what his surname says he is. In fact, when describing him, people often add “…for this wicked world” to the tail of his name. Leonard Toogood bumbles and yammers good-naturedly through life. His innocence about the darker side of life is so palpably obvious that people tend to break things gently to him. Even the smallest evidences of man’s inhumanity to man are generally swathed in gentle vagaries when presented to him. He’s a nice old bird. No-one wants to ruffle his feathers.
And this amiable, useless exterior is, to a certain extent, a true portrait of Leonard as he is today.
But he was once a young man, and, during this regrettable period, he acquired a Past. The sordid details of this Past we will elide here–he certainly does, when he thinks of the matter at all. Suffice it to say that he has been paying a BLACKMAILER for years to keep the details secret. And, as he has very little money of his own, and as Sir Adam has so much of the stuff, he has been, in essence, stealing from Sir Adam to pay this anonymous fiend. As Sir Adam’s solicitor, he is in a good position to do this. And Leonard is so obviously honest that even suspicious old Sir Adam has never thought to examine certain accounts in Leonard’s charge. A happy–almost an idyllic–state of affairs, and one which looked like it would continue into the indefinite future.
Alas for human wishes and human plans! All is vanity! Man is, in fact, born to trouble, as the sparks fly up!
Ruin has come to our gentle solicitor. Or, anyway, it almost did.
You see, Sir Adam found out that Leonard had been indiscreet about his new will. “False in one thing, false in all things!” Sir Adam, in essence, exclaimed.
And now Sir Adam wants a complete audit of all of those accounts that Leonard has been handling for him over the years.
That audit was to be conducted by Sir Adam personally.
Fortunately for Leonard, Sir Adam died before he could begin.
Did this kindly old duffer, driven to desperation, commit murder to save himself?
And that’s it for Leonard! What do you think of him as a suspect? Would he make a good killer in a book, or do you see him as yet another red herring? Would he make an interesting second victim? What new suspicions would Leonard’s murder suggest to your mind?