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.
Let me be absolutely candid with you: this entry is… fine. It’s fine. Yuri’s motive is fairly similar to another one of my characters, as you will see. But the main reason you are getting this particular story is that when I was trying to think of an entry for Y, this is a transcript of how my brain worked: …hm…Y… Y is for Yeti!… Hey, yeah, I could maybe do something with yetis. Or I could do something else, like… yetis. Or there are always yetis.
Anyway, I’ve struggled against this cruel fate, but it is too powerful for me. Yeti it is.
Yuri is a gentleman from the Continent–he is never very specific about where. He is currently staying at the Clutterbuck Arms. His face is that of a man who has suffered much, and his hands shake. Sometimes he has bouts of obvious physical agony, and must retire to his room at once. He resists all attempts to get him to talk about himself, though he is quietly friendly otherwise, in a remote and rather impersonal way. His business, he explains, is with Sir Adam, of Clutterbuck Court.
Years ago, Yuri was on an expedition in the Himalayas. He was an expert climber in those days, and was high up on a mountain with his fellow mountaineers when an avalanche came down upon them and buried them in many feet of snow and rocks.
He remembers that. He remembers being buried. And he remembers the face of the man who stayed behind at the base camp on that fateful day. An Englishman, travelling under the name of Mr. A.B.C.
He does not remember how he dug himself out. And for a time, he remembered nothing at all. When he came to himself again, he was in a remote monastery, and it was another year before he was strong enough to leave the care of the monks.
But with his returning memory came an exciting—a frightening—vision. For he had seen the creature. He, and his dead companions, had seen—actually seen—a Yeti. They had seen it at first through the driving snow, first as just a movement, then as a shape. At first, they had thought it a man, and called out to it. But then it stood at full height… and they knew it was no man.
Later, the expedition found the creature’s home, a crack in the rocks just sufficient in size to allow the creature to squeeze through. And from this home, they collected evidence of the creature’s existence. The bones it had gnawed on, with its giant tooth-marks clear to see. Tufts of fur. Scat. Evidence. They brought it back to the base camp, and were returning for more—when the avalanche hit.
For years after his recovery, Yuri searched for the Englishman who traveled under the name of Mr. A.B.C. He suspected that, when Mr. A.B.C. returned home, he brought the evidence of the Yeti’s existence with him. Yuri advertised in the English papers, but received no reply.
But Yuri found Mr. A.B.C. in the end. He saw a picture of Sir Adam in an illustrated paper, and recognized him immediately. He sought out Sir Adam at Clutterbuck Court. Sir Adam denied it all. He was not, he said, Mr. A.B.C. He had never been on a Himalayan expedition. It was true that he’d been absent from England at about the time of the expedition, but he’d been attending to sundry business matters on the Continent. He certainly didn’t have any proof of the existence of a Yeti in his possession.
Of course, Sir Adam is lying. Yuri knows this. Sir Adam knows that Yuri knows this. And so on. Why Sir Adam was on that expedition is a question for my readers. Probably, he was running away from some more-than-usually-scandalous situation in England. And perhaps he got involved in some other scandal while traveling under the name of Mr. A.B.C..
And Sir Adam did take the specimens back to England with him. He intended to publish them as his own unique discovery if it proved that everyone else from the expedition was indeed dead, and if whatever scandal he was implicated in under the name of Mr. A.B.C. blew over. He does have a habit of stealing the scientific work of others (see Ravi’s Rifled Research for an example of this).
But maybe the scandal, whatever it was, didn’t blow over. Or maybe his theft of Ravi’s work, though successfully accomplished, still taught Sir Adam a bit of caution in similar matters. Anyway, he hasn’t published. Possibly he has even destroyed the specimens. Or, then again, possibly he has not.
Might Yuri have killed Sir Adam, either in anger at his theft (and perhaps because Sir Adam left his companions to die, and did not try to help them or to get them help) or to get access to his stolen specimens?
And that’s it for Yuri! Do you think that he would make a good killer in a book, or is he better as a red herring? Would he make an interesting second victim? Let me know in the comments! Or, as always, feel free to just say hi!
Definitely Sir Adam has form but I cannot see Yuri murdering with poison – rather he would lash out if disturbed while searching for the yeti specimens.
I agree, Yuri is not a likely poisoner.
Yuri is a person who wants evidence. Without evidence, he wouldn’t feel confident enough to claim to have seen a Yeti or to accuse Sir Adam publicly of stealing his property, even though he is certain that it was Sir Adam who traveled to the Himalayas as Mr. A.B.C. But without evidence, he cannot prove Sir Adam’s denial false. I would not put it past Sir Adam to have disposed of Yuri’s evidence, but then, the fact that Belinda’s bones are in a trunk in the attic suggests that if Sir Adam was her killer — or at least the person who put her in the trunk — he might also have stashed both Ravi’s notes and Yuri’s evidence of the Yeti.
I don’t see why Sir Adam’s murderer would take Yuri’s life, so he’s probably not a likely second victim either.
I like your insight into Yuri’s psychology here. Yes, he is very concerned with evidence, and is unlikely to act without it. Also, your ideas about Sir Adam’s psychology are useful here, too. I hadn’t thought of it, but yeah–if he still has Belinda’s bones, he may also still have Ravi’s notes and Yuri’s specimens.
I must confess, I did not see that yeti coming. Can I throw into the mix the possibility that the tall, rather heavily bearded gent staying at The Brown Buck is in fact the yeti, and that he might be the murderer, seeking revenge for the violation of his home and theft of his personal belongings and data? No? A bit far afield, you say?
Oh well, then, let’s discuss Yuri. I think that Yuri will team up with Ravi to use his X-ray machine to find the long-stashed yeti evidence. But I do not think that Yuri will underhandedly poison Sir Adam. If he can find his evidence, then he can take it, and publish it, and bask in the limelight of a scientific discovery that will set the public imagination alight. And if Sir Adam says a gosh-darn thing, Yuri has only to expose his part in it all. So why murder him in private when public exposure would be so much more satisfying?
Ha! Yes, the yeti in disguise is the killer! That… is so bizarre I am almost tempted. Think of that drawing-room scene.
“The man in the corner said nothing. He gave off a peculiar odor. And how tall was he, anyway, under that enveloping cloak?”
‘Eli pointed at the man in the corner. “That,” he announced, “is a yeti. And our killer!” And then the yeti ate him.’
I like the idea of a scientific team-up of Ravi, Yuri, and Xavier…