This Will Kill You by Patrick Quentin

by Arun

Theme for the Week: Edgar Winners

Source: The Ordeal of Mrs. Snow(Queen’s Quorum title #), The Edgar Winners.

Story Number: 75

A special Edgar was presented to Patrick Quentin in 1962 for his collection of short stories The Ordeal of Mrs. Snow. Quote from Queen’s Quorum: ‘This is a superb collection by “a master of the offbeat and subtle effect.” One of the unusual features of the book is the emphasis on child-murderers, normally a taboo theme, but handled by Patrick Quentin with chilling finesse.’ “Love Comes to Miss Lucy” is one of the most anthologized stories from this collection which involves the theme of child-murderer.

This story though is a classic example of the husband plotting his wife’s murder and the wife in turn plotting the husband’s murder – with a big variation. Harry Lund is tired of his wife. He has a new girl in his life and hence decides to do away with his troublesome wife Norma. He fixes the car breaks so that she will meet with an accident at the crucial ‘suicide bend’ when she takes the car on her own. He loses the car but his wife Norma comes out unscathed. He next plans a fire-in-house-due-to-cigarette-in-bed accident. He loses the house but his wife remains unscathed. Harry’s misery continues. Both Harry and his wife are pharmacists. He prepares the cyanide tablet but refrains from using it as it would leave traces. Norma suffers a few heart attacks from the various life threatening events that she has faced recently. Next, he comes with the scheme of murdering her with an overdose of the heart medicine Epinephrine! He waits for a suitable opportunity, injects the overdose when she is in a coma, goes to her sister’s house to build up an alibi but when he comes back he gets the shock of his life to find his new girl friend in the house conversing with her wife who is still very much alive! The story moves on towards a fitting finale!

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