Agatha Christie’s The Love Detectives

The Love Detectives Cover

In Agatha Christie’s short story “The Love Detectives,” mysterious and intriguing Mr. Harley Quin , comes along and works his magic through Mr. Satterthwaite, an old bachelor and shrewd observer of human nature. Mr. Satterthwaite believes that his meetings with Mr. Quin are never a matter of chance and that something is always about to happen wherein Mr. Satterthwaite will play a crucial part. In this particular story, Mr. Satterthwaite tells his friend Colonel Melrose that Mr. Quin is interested in lovers while on their way to Alderway where a crime has just been committed.

They arrive at the crime scene and find Sir James Dwighton murdered in the library. Mr. Satterthwaite and Mr. Quin listen as Colonel Melrose conducts his interviews. Lady Dwighton confesses to shooting her husband. Paul Delangua, Lady Dwighton’s friend rushes in to confess that he stabbed Sir James. Which leaves Jennings the valet as the likeliest suspect because he had been dismissed earlier by Sir James for pilfering according to Lady Dwighton (although the lady’s maid begged Colonel Melrose not to suspect him), and because Sir James’ head had been bashed in, which was contrary to the methods confessed by Lady Dwighton and Paul Delangua.

 

It seems the story would have ended there, what with the two lovers covering up for each other after suspecting the other of having committed the crime and having given the wrong murder methods in the end, but this is where Mr. Quin’s magic comes in. Mr. Quin sees things that nobody else sees, and he guides Mr. Satterthwaite to see through the veil of deception. Lady Dwighton and Paul Delangua had put on an act. They pretended to be lovers under the thumb of an abusive Sir James and put the blame on Jennings whom Mr. Satterthwaite had earlier judged as a man who would kill his master if he thought he could get away with it. Nevertheless, the truth is revealed, and Mr. Satterthwaite holds the proof in his pocket. He will save a man from being hanged.

 

Mr. Satterthwaite thought Mr. Quin had come to save the lovers. He had, but it was another pair he had saved – Jennings and the lady’s maid, though she wasn’t as dramatic as Lady Dwighton when it came to showing her concern for the man she loved.

 

So, in the end, someone has been saved from a terrible fate. Someone’s sorrow has been eased. And someone will be punished.

 

Reading Agatha Christie’s stories allows one an escape into a world where evil will always be defeated no matter what beautiful wrapping it comes in.

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