If you’ve been Detecting for any amount of time at all, you will have noticed something that may strike you as a bit odd: Secrets. Many people have them. And most people who have Secrets don’t want to share them with anyone, even with a Seeker After Truth (that would be you). This tendency to Cling to Secrets increases when Crime is in the offing. Murder causes people to grip their secrets so tightly that you might wonder why the secrets don’t pop under all that pressure (if, that is, you have a Poetical sort of mind, which, of course, you don’t. You are a grim-faced Hound of Fate, not a Consumptive Scribbler).
How To Spot A Secret
People with Secrets act differently from people without Secrets. Watch the Behavior of your Suspects for Fishiness.
If two or three of your Suspects are always having Confidential Chats together, and if they stop talking when you come into the room, they may hold A Secret In Common. When two or more people Hold a Secret in Common, they like to haul it out and look at it, whenever they can do so without Letting The Cat Out Of The Bag. We suggest Hiding Behind A Curtain (See Lesson No. 6 of the Easy Lesson Series, Part 1, ‘Lurking In The Offing’). If you wish to add a bit of Fanciness to this Basic Strategy, you can Pop Out At The Psychological Moment (Lesson 6, Part ii, ‘Popping Out At People’) and Say Something Snappy (Lesson 6, Part iii, ‘The Detective’s Tool-Kit of One-Liners’).
If a Suspect is always sneaking off by himself to have a good cry, this, too, can indicate the presence of A Secret. Depending on the Psychology of the Individual (we will be covering this in a future lesson), the Detective can either assume the role of Comforter or that of Stern Critic. For now, just say, by turns, “There, there, old man!” and “Come, Come, Sir, this display of weakness is Unmanly/Unbritish/Unamerican/Unseemly,” and await the Arrival of Hard Lesson No. 3.
If you have a pair of Lovers in the case, whether of the Married sort (rare, but not actually Unknown to Science!), the Courting variety, or the especially fat-headed Engaged type, they will have Secrets. Lovers invariably suspect each other of horrid crimes. They have no reason for this. They are just sure that Harold or Gertrude or whoever must have done it, simply because the minds of Lovers are Quagmires, into which Logic sinks without a ripple, and from which nothing generally issues save a rather unpleasant Smell.
When you have Lovers, you have Fatheads, and, when you have Fatheads, you have Secrets and Lies. Murderers also tell lies and keep secrets. This is initially Confusing and even Daunting. but, if you keep it firmly in mind that Lovers keep secrets for many reasons that do not make sense to Outsiders, or to any non-Fathead, you may yet retain some vestige of sanity.