I have recently been working on an entirely new kind of crime story. Here's a sample. See what you think.
Sam walked moodily though the wood, kicking at small sticks and stones along the path, thinking of Ursula. All he had said to her was, he wondered if she would like to come to London with him for the weekend, and what she had said was that Angus had already asked her to go away for the weekend, and she had agreed to go with him. Angus! That creep. What on earth did she see in him...?
If Sam had not been so preoccupied with his jealous ruminations, he might well have noticed a smart brown shoe lying in the undergrowth as he passed. He might have noticed that coming out of this smart brown shoe (size 9) was a dark blue sock, above which was a pair of cavalry twill trousers. He might even have noticed that this protruding limb led to the well-dressed body of a young man under a pile of leaves, where he had been recently concealed.
As it was, however, the preoccupied Sam noticed nothing and went on his moody way, muttering fierce threats against Angus, though he could have saved his breath if he had known that Angus was in fact the corpse in the undergrowth...
What is so very different about that kind of crime story, you may well ask? I'll tell you. That is the end of the story! The body is never discovered, and although Angus's disappearance leads to some local comment, the body is never found and people eventually forget about him...
Now do you see why it is different from normal crime stories? Because the crime is never discovered! And therefore you get none of that interminable police procedure, none of those endless minor characters and red herrings, nor any of the angst and anxiety found in modern crime stories, no Jamesian or Rendellian dark corners! And that means it is a whole lot shorter.
Like another new-style complete crime yarn? Here goes! Inspector Ransome looked thoughtful. He also looked relaxed. More importantly though, he also looked very dead. Yes, Inspector Ransome, who had looked down at so many corpses in his time, was now a corpse being looked down at by his erstwhile junior, Inspector Winterton.
"Cause of death?" said Winterton.
"Hit by a car, sir," said Sergeant Peel.
"Identified the car?"
"Yes, sir. A police car. One driven by Constable Constable."
What were the odds against a policeman being called Constable? thought Winterton. How Constable Constable must long for promotion! And then again, it wasn't going to be much better being called Sergeant Constable...
"Accident, I take it?" said Winterton.
"Yes, sir," said Peel. "Tragic accident. Ransome had just sent Constable out on a police chase and got in the way."
In which Peel was wrong, because Constable Constable had wanted to kill Inspector Ransome for a very long time. Now he had. But nobody would ever suspect it was a murder.
So there you are - two complete crime novels in one article! Why are they so short? Because everyone remains blissfully unaware of the crime! So there's still time for another one...
Hercule Poirot look around the assembled company in the library.
"For a long time I was baffled," he said. "The most valuable book in the library had gone missing. One of you must have taken it, even though none of you had any interest in books. Why would any of you have wanted to steal the first edition of 'The Voyage To The Sun' by Cyrano de Bergerac?
"And then I thought to myself, maybe this is something which only a person who knew nothing about books would be capable of doing."
"Do you mean," said Lord Houghton," that some ignorant wallah took the priceless volume by accident?"
"No," said Poirot. "I mean that some ignorant person put it back in the wrong place. When you have a name with the particle 'de', like Charles de Gaulle, your name is always indexed under G for Gaulle, de. This book by de Bergerac should be under B. But what if someone put it back under D by mistake? Put it HERE, in fact..."
And so saying he pointed to a book much further down on the shelves . As he did so, everyone gasped and applauded. Poirot smiled and said, "So you see, there was no mystery at all, after all."
As they all filed out of the library, nobody noticed the pair of high heeled shoes sticking out from behind the Biography section, and nor shall we.
The Independent Friday Nov 2 01