The Let's Play Archive

Murder off Miami

by SelenicMartian

Part 9: Pages 110 to 131. Oh Lordy!

: This report is ridiculous in the amount of info provided.


After lunch to-day Mr. Rocksavage came to me and said that he would like to see me privately. We went to the small writing room together and he told me that our interview of the morning had greatly upset him. He again protested his complete innocence of Blane's death and said that, in spite of any unpleasantness which might arise for him out of the matter, he had decided to inform me of certain facts which would clear him altogether. He then sent for Doctor Ackland, his personal doctor, who always travels with him, and in the presence of the doctor, Detective Officer Neame and myself, he made the following voluntary statement.

This statement has been duly vouched for as the truth and signed and witnessed by Dr. Ackland.

: I didn't kill him, Your Honour, I was getting high with my doctor.


: Doctor, you have just vouched for this statement of Mr. Rocksavage, that you went below with him at 8.10. You are quite certain that is correct?

: Yes.

: But you weren't in the lounge with him?

: No. I was sitting just outside, enjoying the evening air on deck. As Mr. Rocksavage passed the deck entrance of the lounge he saw me and beckoned. I knew at once what he wanted, so I got up without a word and followed him down.

: You had to come into the lounge to follow him down the companion-way, though.

: Yes. A few steps, that's all, as the companion-way is within a couple of yards of the deck entrance.

: No one in the lounge seems to have noticed you. Don't you think that strange?

: No. The Bishop, Lady Welter and Mr. Stodart were sitting together at a table with their backs to the companion-way and the deck entrance, so they would not have been likely to notice me as I stepped through. Cane, the lounge steward, saw me though. Ask him if you doubt my word, and Mr. Jocelyn too. Mr. Rocksavage and I passed him in the passage way below.

: Thanks, doctor. If the lounge steward saw you I guess that will do.


I then examined the contents of the wastepaper baskets, which had been removed from each of the parties' cabins on the morning following the crime, and three items of interest emerged from this examination.

In the refuse from Count Posodini's cabin I found 31 cigarette ends, 25 of these are Chesterfields, but the other 6 are an English brand called Players, and four out of these six have obvious traces of lipstick on them.

In the refuse from Miss Rocksavage's cabin I found a twist of hair which had obviously been removed from a comb. Most of this was golden hair, which undoubtedly comes from the head of Miss Ferri Rocksavage, but mingled with it there are a few short, black curly hairs, which definitely suggest that a man had used that comb after her.

Among the refuse from the Bishop of Bude's cabin I found one match torn out of a booklet of matches, upon which is printed in block letters the words "Adlon-Claridge."

I then re-examined various members of the party.

: Here are the goods. Let's take a look.

: I know what you're thinking. Is it actual human hair? Yes. The publisher bought some in monasteries, then had the staff make the needed mix of two hair types.

You know, most people whose hair was used in the 1936 edition are probably dead now. We should start an urban legend about haunted copies of Murder off Miami.

: As I understand, this match was at some point struck by a worker at the publisher's printing shop. They took fresh boxes home and brought back struck clues. All pieces of physical evidence in these dossiers, apart from letters, are hand-made, hand-placed and, technically, unique.

One of the later cases included a torn naughty photo to assemble, and each puzzle was also "hand-made", torn by the publisher's employees. That also means that stock detective adventure game puzzle of assembling a ripped clue is pushing 80. So does including real-life ads into games, since a fake newspaper in one of the later dossiers had real sponsor adverts. Dennis, you crafty bastard.

: I suppose a baggie with butts would've been too much for the book, and smelly too. They did try to use smell as a clue in one of the later dossiers by adding differently perfumed letters. Unfortunately the smells wore out pretty quickly rendering the clues both useless and a waste of time of the people who sprayed thousands of sheets.


: Come in, Mrs. Jocelyn. Sit down, do.

: What, more questions, already?

: Yes. Sorry I've got to trouble you again, but let's make it as pleasant as we can. Have a cigarette?

: No thanks, I only smoke my own.

: Right then. May I have one of yours so we can be sociable?

: Certainly.

: I see you smoke Players. Very popular brand in England?

: Very.

: That's a charming shade of lipstick you use Mrs. Jocelyn.

: Need we go into that?

: I'm afraid we've got to. I'm going to trouble you for the lipstick you have in your bag at the moment.

: But - I don't understand.

: He wants to wear it.

: Never mind. Just hand it over, will you. it'll save all sorts of trouble in the end in you'll oblige me now.

: All right. There's nothing very exciting about my lipstick, but I'm sure I don't want to be searched. Here it is.

: Thanks. You won't mind if I keep it will you? We shall need it later to prove that it matches the lipstick on these cigarette ends which I've got in this little tin box - see?

: Why - yes. But .......

: Players, all of them, Mrs. Jocelyn, smoked by you and found the morning after Blane's death in Count Posodini's cabin. Now, don't get me all wrong. I'm not trying to fix you for murder, and I'm not trying to raise any nasty scandal about you. The point is that some time between the morning of the 8th and the morning of the 9th you smoked these cigarettes in Posodini's cabin. If it was, as I have reason to believe, between 7.45 and 8.10 p.m. that lets you out of any suggestion that you were doing anything with the Count that you shouldn't have, because it's not reasonable to suppose that you would have smoked six cigarettes and had much of a necking party in a matter of twenty-five minutes. On the other hand, if you didn't smoke them at that time, it might suggest that you were there for a very much longer period and then - no offence - but it might be suggested that you and the Count were up to the sort of thing your husband wouldn't care to hear about.

: I have nothing to add to my previous statement.

: All right, Mrs. Jocelyn. Then the presumption is that you were in the Count's cabin at some other, and probably a much longer, period during that twenty-four hours. If that comes out, it may quite well have to in case like this, what will you husband have to say?

: A lot I expect.

: This doesn't appear to worry you over much?

: As a matter of fact it's just the sort of little lesson I've been meaning to give him for some time.

: So he's been playing you up with Ferri, eh? I guessed as much.

: I did not say so.

: Wait a minute, though. I'm going to put you wise to something which may make you think differently before you burn your boats. The bird you know as Count Posodini is actually "Slick" Daniels; con man and card sharp. Here's his police record. Take a look. Now, what about it when the press get hold of that? Can't you see the headlines in the news sheets. "Society dame becomes moll of a well-known crook." That's not going to be so funny for you, is it? You'll sure be ruined socially and that's a high price to pay just to get your own back on your husband.

: Yes - yes, it would be horrible.

: All right, then, why not tell the truth.

: I have nothing to add to my previous statement.

: Oh Lordy! Let me put it to you another way, then. Mr. Rocksavage and the ship's doctor both saw your husband still unchanged in the passage at 8.10. So your bluff about his being in his bath at 7.45 is now quite useless. Get that?

: Yes.

: On the other hand there is a very strong presumptive evidence that Posodini did in Blane. As "Slick" is a known criminal that makes the presumption doubly strong. Now, you seem a decent sort of girl. Just because a man has a criminal record behind him you're surely not going to see him sent to the chair for a murder he didn't do, if you can stop it, are you?

: I see, Yes, that does make a big difference, doesn't it? All right, then, I was in the Count's cabin. When we came below at a quarter to eight I went in to borrow a book and I sat there talking to him for the best part of half an hour.

: Then, why the heck didn't you say so to begin with?

: Isn't that obvious?

: Yes, because your husband told you not to. Did he know where you'd been?

: I intended that he should. I suppose I might as well tell you everything now. My husband and I haven't been getting on very well lately and this trip has brought matters to a head. I don't worry much about his having an occasional affair, because he's the type of man who's never quite grown up, and it seems that sort of thing is absolutely necessary to him. You see I try to persuade myself that he never really goes off the rails, but this business with Ferri Rocksavage has been a bit too much. I jib at being made a fool of in public and, of course, he considers that I'm as safe as houses, because I'm very very fond of him and I've never looked at another man. I thought that it might bring him to his senses if I did, so when he and Ferri started throwing eyes at each other on the first day out from New York I decided to start a party of my own with the Count. I knew quite well that I could take care of myself and I thought that, if spent half an hour alone with the Count in his cabin, before changing that night, Reggie would be certain to ask why I was so late. As it was I had all my trouble for nothing. He was so occupied himself that he never even thought to ask where I had been.

: I understand.

: I wouldn't have told you this unless you'd had proof already that he didn't come down till ten past eight, but now, as there's no object in keeping up my original story, at least I can get the Count out of trouble. I'm glad to do that because, whether he's a gaolbird or not, he's a very amusing and kindhearted person.

: Thank you, Mrs. Jocelyn. I really am grateful to you for having cleared this matter up.


The Hon. Mrs. Jocelyn had only just left when Lady Welter's maid, Mildred Short, appeared at the door of the writing room and asked if she might have a word with me. She was very nervous, but, after a little, I got her to tell me her trouble and, from a big work bag which she was carrying, she produced the pale blue knitted jumper. In the middle of the back of the jumper there was a large burn where it had been singed with a hot iron and, after some persuasion, Mildred Short made the following statement about it.

: Sadly, the sweater was not included in the dossier.


: Sorry to brother you again, Miss Rocksavage. Come and sit down won't you.

: Well?

: Look here, help me out will you.

: I always help people out if I can.

: That's a good girl. You got a sunny nature, haven't you? You're always being nice to people, whether they deserve it or not.

: Oh, I don't know about that, but it's a short life and it's no good being miserable.

: You've said it, and that's why I'm hoping you're not going to blow up on what I'm gonig to say.

: Why should I?

: Well, I don't know, you're a young girl. Very well brought up and that sort of thing. Some girls like that might resent the sort of questions I'm going to ask, but you know I wouldn't do it if I didn't have to in the course of my duty. Now, I'm going to treat you just as though you weren't a young society girl at all. I'm going to talk to you as though you were a woman of the world.

: She's 23, not 13!

: I suppose I am what you call a woman of the world. Most girls are these days.

: That's right. Now, I'm sure you don't want any sort of scandal attached to your name and believe me a scandal is the last thing that I want to involve you in, but there's one thing I've got to ask you. Who was the man who was in your cabin on the night that Blane met his death?

: I don't understand.

: Oh, yes you do, and you can take it from me that I have actual proof that a man was there. You can take your choice: come clean with me now or face it out against the evidence that I shall produce when you're in the witness box, with all the press photographers standing round to take shots of you at forty different angles. Who was the man in your cabin the night that Blane met his death?

: You're bluffing. You haven't got any evidence.

: Yes I have. Take a look at this little bunch of hair. That came out of your comb. It was found in the newspaper basket the night after Blane was murdered. The fair hair's yours but the short dark curly hairs are not. Somebody used this comb to tidy their hair after you had ruffled it, before leaving your cabin.Those strands of yours were probably already in it at the time. Anyhow, you'd have cleaned it before you used it to do your hair when you dressed for dinner. Shall I tell you who these dark hairs belong to?

: Who?

: Reggie Jocelyn.

: Very ingenious, Mr. Van Dine, but we had a swim off the yacht earlier in the afternoon. I lent my comb to Mr. Jocelyn then, and I'd used it and, being a lazy person, I suppose I never thought to clean it afterwards. Doesn't that rather upset your clever little story?

: It might, Miss Rocksavage, if it weren't for the fact that a man's life hangs in the balance.

: What d'you mean my that?

: Just this. Reggie Jocelyn had a very strong motive for wishing Bolitho Blane out of the way. He even brought Count Posodini on board, knowing the Count to be a criminal, with a grudge against Blane.

: What! Our handsome Count turns out to be a crook!

: That's so, and Jocelyn brought him on this trip in the hop that he'd do Blane in. He didn't though. Posodini's proved an alibi and that makes the presumptive evidence even stronger against your boy friend. He swears that he was in his bath at 7.45, but his wife now admits that he wasn't. What's more, he was actually seen in the passage way still unchanged at ten past eight. Now, what was he doing between 7.45 and 8.10? If he was with you I think you'd better say so, because, if he wasn't, it looks to me very much as though Jocelyn is going to stand his trial for murder.

: In that case you win. Reggie was with me, from the time we came below, which was really about a quarter past seven, until he left me at ten after eight. I'm afraid that would hurt Mrs. Jocelyn a lot if she knew, and father wouldn't be too pleased, either. Will you try and keep that out of it if you can?

: I'll do my best, Miss Rocksavage. You're just paying the penalty of being over kind to a good-looking young rascal, but I'm prepared to take a little risk on being kind to you.


After my third examination of Miss Ferri Rocksavage it occurred to me that the letter Hayashi alleged he had been writing might have been posted and would then still be in the postbag as, in the course of routine, I had given instructions on the morning of the 9th that no letters were to be sent ashore. This turned out to be the case, and I had the letter translated by the yacht's second cook, who is a Japanese. He attests that the original could not have been written in less than eight minutes, leaving Hayashi only twelve minutes to change. His story therefore appears to be true.

The lounge steward, Cane, confirms the fact that the supply of ship's notepaper in the writing room ran out early in the afternoon, before Hayashi came on board, and that he could not refill the racks until the chief steward, who had the keys of the store room, got back from his trip ashore. He further states that Hayashi handed him the letter for posting on arriving in the lounge at 8.15. It is obvious, therefore, that Hayashi could not have procured the paper earlier or written the letter at any other time than that appearing in his statement.

The cabin steward, Ringbottom, also confirms that Hayashi was still unchanged when he brought him the supply of ship's notepaper at 7.55.

Letter and attested translation herewith.

: Anyone has comments on the handwriting, or the translation?


: Come in, Bishop. Have you thought of anything since this morning which might show us how you were occupying yourself between 7.5 and 8.0 on the night of Blane's death?

: No. I wish I could, but I can't think of anything.

: What time did Blane come to your cabin?

: Blane?

: Yes, Blane. It's no good denying it. I've got the goods on you. Just a little thing that happened to be in your wastepaper basket. See, it's a book match with "Adlon-Claridge" on it, the New York Hotel from which Blane wrote you a few days back. Nobody except Blane could have left it where we found it, and it proves that, after he came on board, he went along to see you in your cabin. Now what have you got to say?

: But Officer - I - I-

: I want the truth. What time did Blane come along to you?

: Oh dear, or dear. This is terrible. Quite terrible.

: What time did he come I say?

: Only a few minutes after the ship sailed. I hadn't been in my cabin more than three minutes when he came in.

: How long did he stay?

: Only two minutes. No more, I assure you.

: Why did he come?

: Just to ask if I had got his letter.

: What did he say?

: Only - only - after asking if I'd got his letter, that it would be well for me to remember that we were very very good friends indeed.

: Then you went back with him to his cabin?

: No, No.

: You're prepared to swear to that?

: I am.

: That he left you at about 7.10 and you never saw him again?

: I - never - saw him again.

: Then what in hades were you doing all that time? It didn't take you 50 minutes to change.

: No, no. I read a little first, I told you, but I never left my cabin. I am prepared to swear to that before Almighty God.

: What did you read?

: I read an essay of R. L. Stevenson's.

: What was it about?

: What was it about? Why, it was .......well, you know I really can't remember; most odd indeed, I can't remember, most unusual.

: Listen, Bishop, you're in a spot, you're in a spot I say. I've got all the movements of every other party in this ship checked up, and, unless you can prove your alibi, I am proposing to run you for the murder of Bolitho Blane.

: You can't, you can't do that. I didn't do it.

: You had motive, you had opportunity. You killed Bolitho Blane and I'm sending you to the chair for it. Get that.

: What was the essay about? What was it about. I don't know; that infernal hammering all the time .......I couldn't concentrate for a moment.

: What hammering? You haven't mentioned hammering before.

: Oh, indeed, it was terrible. From about ten minutes after Blane had left me until I went up to the lounge changed it didn't stop for a moment.

: For the love of Mike! Couldn't you have told me that before?

: Why certainly, but I never thought it important. Now what was that essay about ? I really .......

: Oh, to hell with the essay. That hammering must have been the carpenter who was outside your cabin all the time.

: Yes - yes, the carpenter. I said good evening to him when I went up to dinner at eight o'clock.

: Well, now, if that isn't the limit. I'll check up on it, but Bishop, I reckon it lets you out.

: And our suspects after all this are...


In closing this report I now have to confess myself completely at a loss. The situation has developed this afternoon in a most remarkable manner and it is even more baffling than it was at mid-day.

After the examination which I conducted this morning it was quite apparent that numerous members of the party had ample motive for wishing Blane dead. The trouble appeared then to be to fix upon the actual perpetrator of the crime but, since then, so much new evidence has come to light I am now far more befogged that I was before.

In the last stages of my examination this afternoon I had quite made up my mind that the Bishop of Bude was the guilty party, but the ship's carpenter, Jenks, confirmed his statement and it is quite clear that he never left his cabin between 7.45 and 8.0, when he went straight up to the lounge.

The following is an analysis of what occurred according to my latest information, and in my opinion it would have been impossible to commit the murder, dispose of the body, and partially remove the bloodstains from the carpet in less than ten minutes.

Mrs. Jocelyn. Could not have done it, because she was with "Slick" Daniels, Alias Count Posodini, from 7.45 till 8.10 in his cabin, and from 8.10 till 8.30 she was with her husband, changing.

Count Posodini, alias "Slick" Daniels. Could not have done it, because he was in his cabin with Mrs. Jocelyn from 7.45 till 8.10, and from that time until 8.25, when he appeared in the lounge, he would have been occupied in changing.

Mr. Rocksavage. Could not have done it, because from 8.10 when he came down to his cabin, until he went up changed at 8.35, Doctor Ackland was with him and vouches for his presence there.

The Bishop of Bude. Could not have done it, because from 7.15 until 8.10 the ship's carpenter was doing a job of work outside his cabin and vouches for the fact that he never left it during the whole of that time.

Lady Welter. Could not have done it, because her maid, Mildred Short was with her, in her cabin, from 7.5 until 7.35, and from 7.35 till 8.5 she is proved to have been knitting the last sleeve of a jumper, which would have occupied her the whole of that time, until she went up to the lounge.

Mr. Hayashi. Could not have done it, because, when he rang his bell at 7.50, the steward found him in his cabin still unchanged, and he was still unchanged when the steward returned at 7.55, with the notepaper. Eight out of the following twenty minutes he was occupied in writing a letter and the balance in changing to arrive in the lounge at 8.15.

Mr. Jocelyn. Could not have done it, because from 7.15, when he went below, he was with Miss Ferri Rocksavage in her cabin, until 8.10, and from that time until 8.30 he was with his wife changing.

Miss Rocksavage. Could not have done it, because from 7.15 she was with Jocelyn in her cabin until 8.10, and from thence onwards she was occupied with changing in the presence of her maid, Nellie Orde.

It seems to me, therefore, that all the parties under suspicion have incontestable alibis and as we know that Stodart was in the company of various persons in the lounge from 7.30 until 8.33 he could not possibly have committed this murder either. Moreover it could not, on the evidence shown, have been any member of the crew. This leaves me at a completely dead end, and I am now awaiting further instructions.

4.55 p.m. 10.3.36. on S.Y Golden Gull.

: Nobody could have done it, but somebody did. Great. We have arrived at the seal.

: So, thread, who did it? When? The boat is a man short, after all. Any theories?

The book did tell us to look for clues in the photos, and so far we haven't noticed much. Those are not stock interior pictures: the curtain pattern matched the material in the book (in 1936), and in Blane's open case you can even see that book by Eve Chaucer. We know that Kettering is blind as a bat, so have another look. This time they are in higher resolution and taken in a better light. Save them if timg can't unwrap them enough.