A Case of Doubtful Death 3


Little by little Frances gets to learn more about Dr. MacKenzie.

One Dr. Carmichael turns up at her place, wanting to hire her to find some snuffboxes and journals that had belonged to his sister. The woman died long ago, and Carmichael had a grudge against Dr. MacKenzie since apparently he didn’t treat the woman well, and according to his brother, his actions sent his sister to an early grave. The journals contain something that could threaten Dr. MacKenzie’s reputation.

After this visit Frances thinks that the money Dr. MacKenzie borrowed from Mr. Darscot and also got from the business account might have been to pay a blackmailer. Whether the blackmailer has something to do with Friedrich Erlichmann and the exposure of his fraud, or with the revenge of Dr. Carmichael, Frances doesn’t know. What she believes is that Dr. MacKenzie wanted to disappear and fake his own death. She has some information from a Scottish doctor that leads her to think the man planned to change his name to Breck, flee to Edinburgh, and work there as an orderly. After this, I got to think that maybe Dr. MacKenzie killed Henry Palmer to have a body to bury. I thought that if Palmer displayed a beard like the doctor, people might believe the doctor was none other than the doctor. It’s true that we sometimes see only what we believe we are seeing. The deceit could have been achieved.

When Frances confronts Dr. Bonner, I was convinced that my explanation made perfect sense. And then I thought Bonner was involved in this crime. The man first refused to receive Frances, but when she asks the maid to tell him that she knows what he has done, she’s received instantly. Yet, even though he says that Dr. MacKenzie intended to fake his death, he actually died. Frances is not convinced and insists she wants to see the body of Dr. MacKenzie. I like Frances more and more as she grows and gains experience. When she first started doing this detective job, she was more demure, but now she has no problems in speak her mind and confront anybody.

Frances, Sarah and the doctors go to the cemetery and the catacombs where Dr. MacKenzie was buried. When they start hearing sounds and whispers, I thought that Henry Palmer was there. And when Frances believes she hears the name Henry, I was convinced. Yet, when the chamber was opened, Frances sees  putrified fingers showing outside the coffin and she discovers that the voices come from the lost parrot whose disappearance Frances had been commissioned to find. Thinking about this episode, I have to wonder why the parrot had to say the name Henry. Was it simply by chance or is something there?

I have no idea yet what might have happened to Henry Palmer. I don’t trust Dr. Bonner. I think he hides more than he’s ready to confess. And I suspect there has been some foul play, and poor Henry must have got involved in it unwillingly.


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