The smoothie of death


Gert has been reading a lot of crime novels in the silly season and has come up with an outline for one of her own:

Vernon Freckelton, Nietzsche Professor of Contemporary Thought at the University of Melbourne, is found on the floor of his locked office, his legs neatly placed together and his hands crossed on his chest.  Over his face is a large sofa cushion weighed down by a pile of brightly-covered books which turn out to be the biographies of cricketers: Shane Warne’s No Spin, Don Bradman’s How to play cricket, Dennis Lillee’s Menace, Mark Taylor’s Time to Declare, Jeff Thomson’s Thommo Speaks Out and Alan Border’s strangely named A Peep At The Poms.  On the desk is a tall paper cup containing the remains of a strawberry smoothie (there is still pink strawberry foam around Vernon’s lips and on his moustache) and some ground-up Stillnox sleeping tablets. It seems that Vernon has been put to sleep and then suffocated by cricket books.  As he has never shown the slightest interest in cricket, this is either a cunning intellectual clue, a calculated insult, or a clumsy attempt to implicate the university groundsman who has been trying for six months to get a settlement for the wiping-off of his car when Vernon backed into it at top speed, selecting reverse instead of drive in his new automatic. Or is it a ploy by the groundsman to make it look as if it’s a clumsy attempt to implicate him? 

As with all good murders, there’s no shortage of other candidates. Vernon was loathed by everyone in the Philosophy Department and is involved in a vicious journal war with Professor Tony Russell-Hume; the wealthy parent of a student failed by Vernon is threatening to sue him; he has recently contemptuously brushed off a boy claiming to be his illegitimate son; he exerts tremendous power on various academic committees that oversee appointments and grants; and he’s been holding on to the best office in the building for ten years even though it’s supposed to rotate between the Professors of Philosophy, English and Divinity. He even changed the locks.  

Our detective of course has an interesting personal history. He’s a defrocked Anglican bishop. The fact that he was defrocked by mistake, having the same name as a really nasty bishop, has caused him to lose his faith and even though he was invited back into the church when the mistake was realised he settled for a big payout and a new career.  As it happens, he knows a lot about cricket. 

Too complicated, do you think? Too many suspects?  Is there a market for a philosophy-cricket-smoothie-bishop murder?  Does Gert know enough about philosophy, or about cricket? Can she be bothered? Will she be sued by the Anglican church, or by Melbourne University? Did the groundsman do it? Does anyone care?

Image: Leica Bill

18 thoughts on “The smoothie of death

  1. A great plot, dear Gert! Who is the murderer? There are several good options, but, as always, very few hints. Interesting that the detective is a defrocked Anglican bishop, which gives the writer even more latitude to develop the crime story. Bravo, my friends! And thank you! 🙂

    1. Ah yes, the love interest. The groundsman’s daughter, perhaps? And there may well be a big market for the smoothie recipes, especially among cricket followers.

  2. You forgot to mention the cricket score card used as a bookmark in Alan Border’s book, where the entries may or may not prove a a vital clue. And what about the few blades of clipped grass found on the carpet by the body, and the offprint of a paper critiquing The Apocryphal New Testament edited by M R James torn in two and thrust into the wastebasket?

    1. Nw you’re really getting into the weeds, Chris. Very nice cricketing and theological links. You have the right sort of brain for this. Want to collaborate?

      1. If you’re serious, I might be interested, though I must add that I am mildly phobic where commitment is concerned… I’m also hopeless with reading drafts in printouts or onscreen, so any collaboration might be limited to offering red herrings, concocting ‘authentic’ documents, critiquing flow-charts and that kind of thing.

        If you’re not serious then the joke’s on me!

        1. I hate to break it to you, but the Gerts really aren’t up to the high-level planning a crime novel demands, like who was where when. Even when reading a crime novel I get very fuzzy about details like that. So I’m afraid this is a work of the imagination rather than something that’s likely to happen!

          1. Pity, I was really looking forward to finding out how the books were laid out on the sofa cushion to have maximum effect, whether the pages are splayed open, whether the victim had a grin, rictus or not… 😁

            1. I think you’re on the money about the books carrying a message – just what the message is I’m not sure. You remind me of Sherlock Holmes in your attention to detail!

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