Can gas light make you suicidal?

Murder by gas light

The plot

While writing an article, Hutchinson Hatch is disturbed by a phone call. On the line is Weldon Henley, whom Hatch knew from a previous job. Henley is a brisk, young man of high society who has a lot of hobbies (including women and photography). It is only after Hatch has promised full secrecy that Henley comes out with the fact that he believes he should be murdered. However, since the exact circumstances are very strange, he asks Hatch to introduce him to Professor van Dusen.

On the evening of the same day, Hatch and Henley visit the professor. Henley testifies there that he has been murdered three times in the past two weeks, all of which took place in his apartment. Since he could only fall asleep with the light on, he would always leave the gas light on in the bedroom. However, the gas light had gone out three times in the past two weeks, allowing the gas to flow unhindered into the bedroom. He just barely escaped death each time. Since the apartment door and window are tightly locked, the matter is puzzling, even downright impossible, Henley thought. But he shouldn't have told the professor that. Because he was not only extremely outraged by this remark, but also immediately felt challenged to put the gas light killer down. He would think about it, he told Henley as he parted.

The next morning, Hatch receives a report of a death in the Drone house, the house where Weldon Henley lives. Hatch immediately reports this to the professor and together they immediately go to the crime scene. On the third floor of the house they meet Inspector Caruso and the body of Alice Briggs, a 26-year-old chambermaid. Caruso is amazed at the professor's appearance because he considers the maid's death to be a suicide. However, he allows the professor to look around the scene, which van Dusen does immediately. After van Dusen has wandered through the room, he asks Caruso whether a suicide note has been found. The latter denied, which led van Dusen to remark that there was something wrong with the Suicide be.

Then van Dusen and Hatch go to the caretaker, a Mr. Crippen. They learn from him that only three tenants use gas light in the house. The Curtlands, where the dead maid worked, a tenant on the first floor and Mr. Henley, who also lives on the third floor, just across from the Curtlands apartment.

The professor wants to know whether there is a main gas tap that could be used, for example, to turn off the gas in the whole house. This is confirmed by Mr. Crippen, but he explains that this is kept under control by the stokers in the basement at all times, which the professor finds confirmed during a tour of the basement.

The professor then roams the building with Hatch and Mr. Crippen. He'll find it on the fourth floor. He finds a red thread on the rope of a flagpole. Since van Dusen is also very satisfied with the position of the flagpole, he discovers that the maid did not commit suicide, but was murdered.

At home with the professor, van Dusen Hatch tells that it is clear how, who it was is actually as good as certain, only the why, that is still in the dark. So Hatch is hired by van Dusen to find out if Henley has enemies. So it would be interesting to know whether Henley has a rival because Henley is newly engaged to a millionaire heiress. And where the common thread comes from.

First, Hatch finds out that the thread comes from a bathrobe. Then he visits Henley and learns from him that im Drone house a childhood friend and former fiancé of his fiancée, a Mr. Reginald Cable, lives. Hatch then speaks to Mr. Crippen. The latter tells him that Mr. Cable has only been living in the house for about three weeks, but that he will be moving out soon. Hatch then sends van Dusen what he has found out over the phone.

The next morning, Hatch meets with van Dusen. Then he got a call from his editorial office, saying that Mr. Henley was shot yesterday evening while walking in the park. Van Dusen must first incorporate this into his reconstruction.

In the meantime, van Dusen sends poor Hatch back into the house Drone house. There he plays Mr. Cable, who is packing, a prospect for his apartment. In the process he learns that Mr. Cable's butler had a relationship with the murdered maid and that this is not only a bit confused but has also given him notice. While the butler is just making another mistake and Mr. Cable is loudly pestering the butler, Hatch can let go of a thread from Mr. Cable's red bathrobe, which he then dutifully hands over to the professor. Then go back to work in the editorial office.

Barely there, Hatch receives a call from the professor informing him that the thread on Mr. Cable's bathrobe is the same as the thread on the flagpole. Since the perpetrator must have been wearing this bathrobe, Hatch concludes that Mr. Cable is the perpetrator, does not allow the professor to speak and notifies Inspector Caruso of the perpetrator. Then he rushes to the Drone house.

There Hatch meets van Dusen, who quickly makes it clear to him that he acted hastily. On the third floor they meet, among others, Caruso, who arrested Mr. Cable and his bathrobe. Van Dusen immediately takes command and guides everyone in the corridor to Mr. Henley's apartment to present the solution to the case.

There van Dusen retreats into the bathroom with Mr. Cable's bathrobe and his miniature laboratory. After a while, van Dusen returns from the bathroom with the familiar words: "Gentlemen, the case has been solved."

First van Dusen explains that it is possible for a person without any problems to use his lungs to extinguish all gas lamps by blowing into a gas pipe. In this way the murderer extinguished the gas lamp in the maid's room and killed her with it. The problem of how the perpetrator was able to determine whether the victim is already asleep is also clarified: the perpetrator, wrapped in a bathrobe, attached a mirror to the rope of the flagpole, which is pulled to the end of the flagpole, above which the perpetrator in the The victim's home.

Since everyone in the room still cannot identify the perpetrator, the professor asks: "Is Mr. Cable the murderer?" He protests vigorously and explains that the bathrobe in question is not his. His would have been a little different and unfortunately disappeared.

The professor then goes on to say that the bathrobe and the shot at Mr. Henley in Central Park again confused the case a little. So he begins to break down the case further into its basic components. He explains that the maid's murder was the target and not an accident. In the course of the remarks, the butler of Mr. Cable assumes that he is accused of murder and draws a gun. Van Dusen calmly persuades the butler to surrender the weapon, because he did not kill the maid, but was only guilty of bodily harm (the shot at Mr. Henley), the cover-up of a crime and the extortion.

Thus only Mr. Henley remains as the murderer, who promptly tries to escape but is intercepted by Caruso. Professor van Dusen explains that Mr. Henley had an affair with the maid, but ended it when the millionaire heiress appeared. However, since the maid was causing difficulties, he decided to kill her in the manner described. Since the butler was informed about the affair, he suspected who the perpetrator was and decided to blackmail Mr. Henley. Mr. Henley placed the robe in Mr. Cable's apartment because he had heard from Hatch that the professor had found something on the flagpole. Van Dusen found proof of this in the bathrobe, on which residues of chemicals for developing photographs were found and on which Mr. Cable did not photograph.

Then Mr. Henley rushes out of the window.