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 the Vicar of Clutterbuck Parva.
The Vicar is a regular caller at Clutterbuck Court. When he’s not calling to collect donations, he’s coming to lunch, or tea, or occasionally dinner (if they need an extra man to fill out the seating arrangements). He often calls in to see Meghan or Ingrid, both of whom are involved in various charitable and community activities locally. But a few days before Sir Adam’s death, the Vicar called in to see Sir Adam himself. This had never happened before, and the meeting seems not to have been a friendly one. And the meeting, I should note, took place in the study.
Asked by investigators what they discussed at that meeting, the Vicar was vague. “I expect he’d been up to something in the sinning line, and I found out, and felt I had to bring it to his attention, don’t you know. What did I find out? My dear chap, I’ve no idea. No, really, not the faintest. Don’t keep that sort of trash in my head. Deal with it and then forget it. But I do seem to remember being really very angry. Yes indeed. Oh, yes. Very angry. But since then, don’t you see, I’ve had so much on my plate. There’s the weekly sermon—always a worry, and people seem to remember what I’ve said before, so I can’t repeat—can’t think how they do it, but I suppose it is a good thing, remembering sermons. And I’ve also had the village fete to plan, and there’s the roof fund—dreadful, the church roof is, going to tumble down on us all if it isn’t looked after soon—don’t suppose you’d care to contribute? Ah, thank you. Thank you! But as I was saying, I’ve been just dreadfully busy since my little chat with Sir Adam, and I couldn’t possibly remember what we discussed. There’s my translation of Tacitus to be getting on with, too…”
This level of forgetfulness raises some questions, of course. The Vicar is known to be a bit absent-minded, but this seems extreme, even for him.
And, if he could forget what he and the soon-to-be-murdered Sir Adam talked about, could he also have forgotten some other important details? Like, for example, dropping some poison into Sir Adam’s whiskey decanter?
And that’s it for the Vicar! I am modelling him on the usual sort of Vicar encountered in classic mystery fiction: vague, kindly, scholarly, and concerned with the church roof.
Do you think he would make a good murderer in a story, or is he better as a red herring? And what of him as the second victim?
My candid opinion, by the way, is that he would make a terrible murderer, and that I’d be very upset if he turned out to be the second victim. But, of course, perhaps it could be made to work, dramatically speaking. I don’t know.
Tell me what you think in the comments! Or, as always, feel free to just say hi!
The Vicar certainly seems to remember the things he needs to take care of, which casts doubt on his insistence that he does not remember what transpired between Sir Adam and himself — except for his own extreme anger. Still, it seems in keeping with his rather breezy attitude.
Maybe Polly sometimes feels the need to offer the Vicar a rare confession in order to clear her way to heaven. Perhaps she told him of Sir Adam’s offer to expose Eli and his love. I can see where that might enrage the Vicar, but to the point of murder? No. And having confronted Sir Adam, he would conclude any further redemptive action was Sir Adam’s to take, so he would be free to forgive and forget.
Beyond that, I can’t imagine why the actual murderer would feel a need to turn the Vicar into a second victim.
Yes, the Vicar is oddly (and conveniently) forgetful…
I like the idea of Polly confessing to the Vicar. That opens up lots of possibilities, including the one you have indicated. I’m guessing you mean Quinton? But I also cannot see the Vicar being incensed enough to commit murder… or to think that murder was at all an appropriate thing for a Vicar to do.
I also cannot really see the Vicar as a second victim. He is probably just a bit part, providing occasional insight and/or comic relief.
Oops. Yes, I did mean Quinton!
Agreed, the vicar is not the murdering type.
It could be that he happened to mention something to somebody whom he now has a sinking feeling might have broken out in murder as a result of that news, so that now the vicar feels that he can’t reveal what the conversation was about lest he a) incriminate the somebody and b) have is indiscretion revealed, about which he really feels very guilty and embarrassed. Whether the news and the somebody in question really are the clues to the murder or whether they are themselves red herrings, I do not know.
I very much enjoyed the vicar’s testimony as recorded above! =)
That is a good idea, having the vicar worried that a little indiscretion of his might have been the cause of Sir Adam’s murder. That is kind of like the situation with the family solicitor (Leonard, whose suspicions are outlined in the post about Ingrid), but perhaps even more plausible here, and it would account for his reticence.
I enjoyed writing the Vicar a lot! He’s sort of a stock character, but I always enjoy meeting him in books.
I like the notion of the vicar being concerned he has been indiscreet but not being quite certain about that.
I also like this idea. It explains why he has “forgotten” the discussion so very thoroughly.