Murder Stops The Music by Helen McCloy

by Arun

Theme: Crippen & Landru Lost Classic Series

Source: The Pleasant Assassin and Other Stories

Story Number: 110

Sybilla, a nineteen year old girl from Boston has the unenviable task of inviting the famous concert pianist Gertrude Ehrenthal to perform for the village summer fair, a yearly event to raise money for local charities. Just when she is about to enter the Ehrenthal residence, a big boxer confronts her and when the door is opened, she is relieved when the dog enters the house and makes himself comfortable. Contrary to Sybilla’s expectation, the pianist agrees to perform at the fair. But what they both can’t agree to is the ownership of the dog which is having a jolly good time wreaking up the house – the host thinks that the dog is Sybilla’s and she likewise thinks that it belongs to the host. And a few hours later the dog turns up dead with its throat cut!

The actual owner of the dog turns out to be Basil Willing’s neighbor in the village Paul Amory, who is the paid organizer for the whole event. And he has vowed to get his revenge if the Ehrenthals turn up for the concert! And sure enough, Gertrude is found stabbed to death when the lights black out during the middle of the concert. There are far more suspects than Basil Willing had thought he was dealing with – there are many who want her out of the way so that the estate would go on sale, there is her son who would inherit her wealth and there’s a gangster on the loose who had stayed in that house and is supposed to have hidden the loot there. Willing has his own method of identifying the culprit – though the dog’s behavior is obviously a clue, he bases his deduction on the fact that a sentence uttered by one of the suspects could have come only from a Frenchman rather than an Englishman!