Lawyer Leonard’s Loose Lips #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 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.

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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?

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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?

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8 Comments

  1. Probably not the murderer, but with Sir Adam’s demise, it seems reasonable to believe Leonard’s opportunities for theft are now reduced to a final skimming as he disburses the estate according to the Will. This might concern the BLACKMAILER. Not only will a reliable source of income dry up, but Leonard might be emboldened to confess his disreputable past in a potentially lucrative memoir, even going so far as to reveal his BLACKMAILER’s name. Thus,Leonard might become a second victim, but at the BLACKMAILER’s hand — which might not be the same as the hand that did Sir Adam in.

    Unless… the BLACKMAILER was a victim of Sir Adam’s blackmailing, who only BLACKMAILED Leonard to recover the blackmail money paid to Sir Adam, and for some reason yet unknown, Sir Adam has decided to expose the secrets of Leonard’s BLACKMAILER, thus motivating his own murder, and possibly the murder of the hapless Leonard.

    • I like the lucrative memoir idea! What a reversal of fortunes for our blackmailer. And yes, Leonard will either have to do a big, final skim or find a new source of revenue. Or, I suppose, he could oversee the transfer of the estate himself, make sure his crimes are not discovered, and continue to act for one or more of the legatees… and just keep on skimming.
      And it is always exciting in a book when you catch one murderer… and realize that there is a second murderer still at liberty.
      I also like the idea of a complex network of blackmailers. Everyone is blackmailing everyone to pay everyone else. This is good.

  2. I agree with Sue. He sounds very capable of embezzling but not of murder. I feel bad that he got caught, and almost relieved that Sir Adam didn’t get to audit him. Interesting how you rope people into writing story options, yes? Happy A to Z! http://www.shirleyjdietz.com

  3. Money is always a good motive for murder and he does sound like a very good candidate for least likely suspect. Of course it all depends who his blackmailer is and how that weaves into the rest of the plot to ascertain if he’d make a better murderer or victim.
    Tasha
    Tasha’s Thinkings: YouTube – What They Don’t Tell You (and free fiction)

  4. I really really hope that in fact the BLACKMAILER was Sir Adam, and that Leonard was actually stealing Sir Adam’s money to pay Sir Adam — without either of them realizing it. There’s such a charming symmetry to that. As for Leonard as the murderer, I think it’s definitely not impossible, precisely because he’s so otherwordly and bumbling. He seems like the sort whois well aware that he isn’t capable of carrying out some cool subterfuge, and he might panic into murder as the only option he can see. On the other hand, perhaps more likely still is that he will actually plan and attempt a murder, but be so bumbling about it that someone else manages to get in first, thus turning him back into a red herring in spite of himself.
    Subsequent victim? Odds are high.

    • Yes, that would be splendid. Sir Adam blackmails Leonard, but Leonard does not know it is Sir Adam doing it. Leonard steals from Sir Adam to pay Sir Adam, and Sir Adam never realizes that he is gaining nothing from his nefarious activities.
      Yay! The character who has a plan to commit murder but is beaten to it! I have always wanted to put such a person in a story. So many clues could reasonably point to such a one. Really, the ideal red herring.
      And yes, if Leonard didn’t commit the murder, he is a very good second-victim candidate. Vague, bumbling, and kindly… with intimate knowledge of Sir Adam’s finances… and with a tendency to be indiscreet… a dangerous person, perhaps.

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