“Well,” Jack inquired amiably, “been any murders today?”
One of the best ways to travel is through books and thus I was delighted to borrow Murder in Bermuda from the library. Though I have heard of the Bermuda triangle and read a book and seen a movie on it, I have no clear-cut idea about where exactly it is located. So it was a joy to read this book which is full of local flavour: its flowers; the rivalry between cities; the religious ceremonies; its transportation system etc.
Constable Simmons, cycling to his police station is horrified when his cycle almost runs over a corpse lying by the edge of the road. He dismounts and finds that the body of a young beautiful woman. When peddaling hard, he reaches a shop where there is a telephone and calls up the chief of police, the latter is incredulous. This is Bermuda, people come here to celebrate and have a merry time not to murder. He dispatches Inspector McNear to the spot who is as flabbergasted as Simmons and as horrified when he discovers a lethal stileto in a bouquet of lilies lying near the body.
Superintendent Welch’s keen eye discovers that the lilies in the bouquet are not grown locally (this is a major discovery since Bermuda is overgrown with lilies) and so the investigation shifts to the pleasure ships which are docked in Bermuda. One of the ships had a passenger who had just such a bouquet delivered to him but the man, Collins, has disappeared.
The Chief of Police, John Masters, is keen to have the death dismissed as a case of suicide. Meanwhile, information comes from the US – that the murdered girl, Pamela Hawkins, was the nurse of a young child of a multimillionaire who has been kidnapped, and the missing man Collins, was a bank employee who had absconded with a huge number of bond – and the case becomes more complicated. Soon the number of persons injured or dead piles up, causing Dr. Jenkins to complain about the fact that he might as well as take his practice to Chicago.
I enjoyed this book with its old world charm: people use bicycles and carriages and though there are trains there are no cars; not every household has a telephone; and radio is a novelty. A man is astounded by the wireless. I wonder what he’d have thought of the internet which continues to astound me though it has been here for quite some time now.
Also I loved the fact that the police officers work in tandem. The Superintendent and the Inspector started on the force together and though one has been promoted, it has not affected their friendship. One discovers one clue, the other another, the other members of the force also contribute. And I liked the harassed Dr. Jenkins. Unlike the previous read, The Hunted Man, which was teeming with doctors, here we have one person shunting from one place to another and feeling quite out of his depth.
The author Willoughby Sharp also wrote another mystery, Murder of the Honest Broker. Hope to get a copy of that too. Have you read either/both of his books? Do you like books set in exotic locales?
First Line: Saturday Morning, April 10th
To Constable Simmons that morning before Easter began as serenely as every other morning of his twenty years’ service with the Bermuda Police Force.
First Published: 1933
Other Opinions: The Passing Tramp
3 thoughts on “Deadly Lilies: Murder in Bermuda by Willoughby Sharp (1933)”
I’ve always wanted to go to Bermuda, Neeru, although I’ve not yet been (perhaps someday). So I can see how the setting of this book would be so appealing to you. I like the elements of the police procedural in this one, too. If it makes sense, that seems to be a good fit for the atmosphere of the story. I’m glad you found so much to like about it.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I hope you get to visit Bermuda soon, Margot. The book was really enjoyable: an exotic locale and good interaction between the police team.