Chapter 8: Villains In Crimes Involving Toffs
How to Identify a Toff Style of Murder
1) Your suspects: do any of them have Titles? For these purposes, “Sir” and “The Hon.” both count as titles.
2) The victim: had he a Title? If he was a Baronet, please read this chapter and Chapter 9: The Baronet Problem.
3) The Weapon: could it be described as an Ornate Dagger?
4) The Setting: Was it a Country House or Estate?
5) The Scenario: was it a House Party or other like gathering?
If you answered Yes to one or more of the following questions, then you may be dealing with a Murder of the Toff variety and you should familiarize yourself right away with the following chapter. We are sick and tired of being Outdone by amateurs in this field, as murder is properly Police Business.
Villains in Crimes with Toffs are not generally what you would call standard villains. Do not be deceived by appearances, and go arresting the first tough-faced individual or wandering tramp you encounter. In the Toff Style of Murder, they won’t have done it. They may Know Something- I’m not saying they won’t- and if you think you can sweat something out of them, haul them in. But don’t get Cocky and make Statements to the Press such as, We Have Gone and Solved It, because like as not some Amateur will leap out of the bushes and say, “Solved it? I fear not! Behold!” And then go on about all the other suspects you’ve been neglecting while you were busy pinching and interrogating your Thug.
If a Suspect is always leaping out at you with a Camera or other Photographic Equipment, you might be goaded into Suspecting or even Arresting him. “He must have done it,” you may reason, “he is too obnoxious not to have Done The Murder.” Do not be Taken In! Most Chaps with Cameras are Not Actually Killers. They are just Lacking in Certain Fundamental Niceties. And you may think it is Fishy the way he is always going into that room and Messing Around with Chemicals In The Bloomin’ Dark. We agree. It is Fishy. It is not, however, evidence. Note, however, that if there is Intrigue, especially of the type that could be called Espionage, the Camera-Addict should be considered a Possible Spy. If the murder might have been done by a Spy- for example, if Papers Of A Nature So Sensitive That No-One Will Tell You A Thing About Them have been stolen, collar the Camera-Addict, or at least go and have a good rummage through that dark-room.
Some of Today’s Most Nefarious Villains are what you might call Scientific Villains. These are more common in America, but England, too, is Rapidly Filling Up with men of Genius with a Kink in their Characters. They tend to cackle. They tend to be solitary. They are generally performing some sort of Experiment. They will mutter to themselves about it regularly. But then that is most scientists. For the Layman, it is Hard to tell the Difference between your average scientist and your Scientific Villain. There are, however, a couple of Villainous Scientific Types that you should keep a Special Eye on. If you don’t, and your Precinct Goes Up In Flames, or you get your brain all twisted up, or you get surgically combined with a Baboon, you will only have yourself to blame. Watch out for cackling, hand-rubbing, giggling, biting, twitching. If a Scientific Villain is the Murderer, he has probably either “done it for Science!” or done it to Inherit Money for Scientific Research.
Lads, do not overlook Ladies. Ladies, even Ladies with Fancy Hats, may be your Villain. You may hear things from your Ignorant Colleagues about what is and what is not a Woman’s Weapon. Women are more likely to Poison or to Stab than to Shoot or Strangle, they’ll say, and they are right- on the whole. But one problem with Toff Crimes is that they tend to be tricky. Ask yourself: who among these people do I not suspect? That one is likely the killer. If you do not suspect a Lady because she is so Fancy and Elaborately Hatted, you might want to arrest her right away, on Suspicion. Of course, if she does happen not to have done it, she may Raise a Ruckus and even Have Your Badge. Ladies should, therefore, be approached with Caution.
With a Toff Type of Murder, your killer is probably a Toff, or at least a Person Of A Certain Social Standing In The Community. Local Doctors and Vicars should not be overlooked, nor should Visiting Bishops and such-like. Oxford Dons are more likely to Make Pests Of Themselves By Sleuthing than to be the actual murderer, but you might want to arrest them just to keep them out of trouble. Generally, if you supply your arrested Professor with sufficient reading matter, he won’t notice he’s arrested for days or weeks at a time.
Notes: At least this strikes a blow for Women’s Lib, in a way, by including us in the class of potential murderers. I do not approve, of course, of the Dim View this chapter seems to have of The Amateur Detective, but police will be police. I suppose.