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 Wilhelmina.
Wilhelmina is an attractive young widow. She lives in the big, empty-looking house just outside of Clutterbuck Parva, where she has come to forget. But she cannot forget.
Wilhelmina is alone. She is mysterious. She still wears black, three years after his sad decease. She is often to be seen, lurking elegantly in the cemetery, her dark hair ever so slightly stirred in a wind that always seems to be blowing. Her grief makes her seem forever untouchable.
Except, of course, to a vulgarian like Sir Adam. He took one look at Wilhelmina, decided that she looked really good in all that black, and has been in hot pursuit ever since. To achieve his wicked ends, he has thwarted her every attempt to do anything. For example, Wilhelmina is an enthusiastic amateur archeologist. There are barrows on some common land near Clutterbuck Parva that Wilhelmina would very much like to dig up. It would be interesting, and take her mind off of her grief. But Sir Adam got wind of her application to dig, and he promptly sat on it with all of his considerable heft. Privately, he told her that his objections would magically disappear, if she’d only…
Well, she definitely won’t. She told him so. He decided that she was a fun challenge. She doesn’t want to be a fun challenge. She wants to be let alone, and to be allowed to pursue such harmless activities as will provide at least a temporary relief from her sorrow. But every activity she thinks of, there is Sir Adam, blocking her way, smirking coyly. Really, it is quite sickening.
Might Wilhelmina have decided that poisoning Sir Adam’s whiskey was the best way out of her troubles?
And that’s it for Wilhelmina! By the way, it looks like Josephine’s suspicions were justified… Sir Adam is interested in someone else. Probably, the fact that Wilhelmina is unwilling just makes his interest all the more passionate.
Can you see Wilhelmina as a murderer? Or is she better as a red herring? How might Wilhelmina’s existence influence your views on Josephine’s role in the mystery? Might Wilhelmina make an interesting second victim? Let me know in the comments (or, as always, feel free to just say hi!).
I do like the wonderfully gothic Wilhelmina. How we interpret her can go, I think, in one of two ways. EITHER she is in fact a sorrowing and lovely victim, intolerably hounded by that unmitigated cad Sir Adam, in which case she is not the murderer. However, she is exactly the sort of person that well-meaning chivalrous idiots think they’d better lie to protect. Perhaps she was the subject of the vicar’s angry words with Sir Adam, for example.
OR she is in fact the Black Widow type. Perhaps she actually poisoned her first husband and has retreated here to escape the notoriety among those in her circle who Suspect. In which case she has learned that poison is an admirably easy and efficient method of eliminating inconvenient males, and she becomes a Top Suspect.
Personally, I hope she’s the former, and after all this horrid mess is sorted she can go on to become a well-respected archaeologist.
I like her, too. And! I am excited about your suspicions. I was actually about to make her a Black Widow type, but then I decided not to. But, of course, she still could be. And I do like the different spin it puts on all of her actions. Did she move to Clutterbuck Parva to forget… or to start again somewhere where she wasn’t universally suspected of murder?
Also, she is exactly the sort of person that people do get chivalrous about–another excellent possibility there.
I think Wilhelmina is a red herring but justifies Josephine’s jealousy. I hope she can get on with her archaeological pursuits without being badgered.
So do I! And, I mean, Sir Adam is dead, so she’ll probably be able to dig up that barrow now. Unless she is arrested for the murder…
I want to believe Wilhelmina’s grief is genuine, but unless her husband was the most loving, faithful man any woman could imagine, three years seems an awfully long time for an attractive young widow to mourn in isolation. So I agree with Anne Nydam that she might be a Black Widow who has run away from the scene of her crime only to be presented with an insistent candidate for her next murder. And it’s easy to imagine Sir Adam would invite her to Clutterbuck Court, and when she has finally had enough of his interference with her life, she would accept, her vial of poison at the ready.
However, if she did not kill her husband and her grief is real, I don’t believe she would murder Sir Adam. But if Josephine killed him, Wilhelmina might well become her second — or third — victim.
Hm… well, I’ve never been a widow, so I don’t really know how long is sort of standard for mourning. Also, I suspect that she is a morbid sort of person, and may be quietly enjoying her grief, even as she is feeling it. And yes, the possibility that Anne Nydam raises is intriguing!
Josephine might kill Wilhelmina, I suppose. I guess the question there is, how exactly did Josephine feel about Sir Adam? Was she possessive enough to kill Wilhelmina even after Sir Adam is dead? An interesting question…
Good theme! Feels like a good counterpart to Edward Gorey’s “Gashlycrumb Tinies” where 26 children are killed.
Ooh, I hadn’t thought of that for years! But yeah, it is neat, and I see the similarity. And really, it is flattering, being compared to anything Gorey. I am a fan of his particular streak of morbidity.