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 Ravi. Many years ago, Ravi and Sir Adam (only he wasn’t a “Sir” then) were up at Oxford together, working on the great scientific enigma known as the Fernissimus-Timpanum Problem. Then, suddenly, Adam published his famous paper “A Total Solution of the Fernissimus-Timpanum Problem, Solved Exclusively By Me, Adam Bracegirdle Clutterbuck.”
Now, the true story of that momentous discovery shall be revealed!
Ravi and Adam were, as I have said, up at Oxford together. Ravi and Adam were, in fact, lab partners, working away at a great scientific mystery that their professors did not really expect them to solve. It was an exercise they put to all their students, to see what they came up with and what methods they used to approach the problem.
Adam’s role in this work was mainly holding test tubes and staying out of the way. Occasionally, he would make a suggestion, to which Ravi would listen politely. Adam’s suggestions were always good for a laugh, and were occasionally even instructive. It helped Ravi to hear Adam’s wrongheaded ideas on the subject. They occasionally suggested, quite by chance, a fertile line of inquiry for Ravi to pursue.
And then, wonderfully, Ravi solved it. He actually solved it. He could barely believe it at first. He tested the thing. He re-tested it. Yes, he’d done it. A scientific mystery was now a mystery no longer, thanks to Ravi. He prepared to publish. The draft of his paper was nearly ready to be sent out to the great scientific journals… when his father died, and Ravi had to go home to India. He was away longer than he had expected, and when he returned to Oxford, Adam had published Ravi’s paper. Only, of course, Adam put his own name on it. He’d been knighted for his great discovery, and was now strutting around the world as “Sir Adam Bracegirdle Clutterbuck.”
In order to do this, Adam had actually gone into Ravi’s rooms at Oxford and rifled through his private papers, taking most of them away with him. All of Ravi’s research notes were gone, along with his draft of the paper.
Ravi tried, briefly, to reveal “Sir” Adam’s duplicity. It didn’t go well. The man had already been knighted. That seemed to make the thing irrevocably official. After a time, Ravi went back to his research. He has been researching ever since.
And now, he wants his notes back from Sir Adam. Not credit, not fame, not even an apology–just the research notes that Sir Adam stole from him all those years ago. You see, Ravi has come up against a real stumper of an equation in his current line of research–and he knows that, all those years ago, he solved something very like it, on his way to the solution of the Fernissimus-Timpanum Problem. It had been a sideline, then, and hadn’t received a mention in his paper. But now–well, he’d like those notes back, badly.
He wrote to Sir Adam, but received no reply. Undeterred, Ravi traveled to Sir Adam’s village. A day before Sir Adam’s death, he and Ravi had a stormy interview in Sir Adam’s study. Sir Adam denied the existence of Ravi’s notes, and affected not to know who Ravi was. He did all of this quite loudly. Many people in the household heard him… and they heard Ravi’s reply, which was intemperate, to say the least. Did he specifically threaten to kill Sir Adam? Opinion is divided on this point. But everyone agrees that he was, by the time he left, a very angry man.
Could Ravi have killed Sir Adam, in revenge for his stolen research, and in the hopes that Sir Adam’s executors would be more reasonable about those papers than Sir Adam has been?
And that’s it for Ravi! What do you think, readers? Would Ravi make a good murderer in a book, or is he better as a red herring? Would he make a good second victim or not? If so, why? If not, what should happen next? Personally, I’d like Ravi to get the credit he has for so long deserved… or perhaps he could scorn to claim credit, now it has been stolen for so long, and simply say that he has other, greater scientific achievements ahead of him.
Let me know what you think in the comments! Or, as always, feel free to just say hi!