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The Silk Stockings Murders

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 10 months ago

Berkeley, Anthony - The Silk Stocking Murders (1928)

 

Roger Sheringham is contacted by a rural family about their missing daughter, Janet Manners. He discovers she has apparently committed suicide, strangled to death with her own silk stocking. Roger is not happy about the conclusion, and when other similar deaths take place he teams up with Inspector Moresby of Scotland Yard to ferret out the truth. Janet's sister Anne volunteers her aid, and puts her own life at risk more than once in the dramatic conclusion.

 

This is not an auspicious outing for either Berkeley or Sheringham. Berkeley has the awkward task of working serial killings by an apparent psychopath into the structure of a standard detective story. The results are unconvincing, and there are moments when one feels that he is making it up as he goes along. Clues are few and far between, but the killer is soon fairly obvious, mainly through a lack of other suspects. Some information is kept back from the reader till the end. There are assurances that a private individual can investigate these things much better than Scotland Yard, when this is patently untrue, and an unfeasible attempt to trap the killer which any sensible psychopath would have kept miles away from. At times Sheringham himself appears nearly as unbalanced as his quarry; and the quite unnecessary stunt at the end should have earnt him at least six months in gaol. A couple of gratuitous racial slurs add to the unsavoury mixture.

 

In The ABC Murders eight years later Agatha Christie was able to show how the thing should be done. One hopes she had learnt from Berkeley's experience. Berkeley himself wisely decided to leave thrillers to Edgar Wallace, and the following year produced the classic The Poisoned Chocolates Case.

 

Jon.

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