Another month of me taking advantage of the wonderful resource that is the British Library to investigate stories from Robert Adey’s Locked Room Murders (1992) — and we begin with an author I was very eager to read further after recently encountering him for the first time: Mr. Julian Symons.
Genre is essentially the formalisation of deja vu. Those of us who return to — or avoid — particular genres do so because of the essential ingredients that recur there, whether through implicit rules or otherwise.
John Wilkins has never quite fitted in anywhere: not in his father’s affections, not in the Army, not at his tennis club, not even in his marriage. Even when he feels as if he acquits himself well at something, there’s still a part of his mind he closes off for fear that he’ll realise “that the whole thing is a daydream and you’re just being stupid”. And so when a chance encounter with librarian Sheila Morton stirs in Wilkins something he’s not experienced for quite some time — “I’m not attractive to women” he tells us on more than one occasion — it’s also the first step along a road that ends with murder. The question is, whose murder?