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The Silk Stocking Murders by Anthony…

The Silk Stocking Murders (1928)

by Anthony Berkeley

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Self-satisfied amateur detective Roger Sheringham did not exactly cover himself with glory during his previous outing, Roger Sheringham And The Vane Mystery, but here Anthony Berkeley allows him to redeem himself---albeit in his own inimitable way, one not always easy for the reader to take. In his capacity of crime expert on a London paper, Roger is contacted by a distressed vicar, who tells him that after moving to London to find work, his daughter, a steady, reliable girl, has ceased to contact her family. Looking into the matter as requested, Roger discovers to his dismay that the girl has committed suicide, hanging herself with her own stocking. When a second girl kills herself the same way, Roger is surprised but happy enough to get an article about "suggestibility" out of it; but when a third young woman dies, he is convinced that these are not suicides, but murders... The Silk Stocking Murders is a creepy, uncomfortable book, which lingers on the details of the women's deaths, including their more fetishistic aspects: most notably, the stocking in each case is one the victim was wearing, such that she is found with one stocking on and one bare leg. There is also unusual emphasis, for this period, upon the subsequent condition of the bodies - Roger is allowed to look on during the police surgeon's initial examination of one of the murdered girls - and it is fairly frank about the sexual underpinnings of the crimes. Moreover, exposing the killer ultimately requires a re-enactment of the deaths---complete with a live model... As he begins to look into the first three deaths - and there will be others before the case is closed - what strikes Roger is the lack of motive for suicide: the vicar's daughter, for instance, found a good job; while another of the young women was on the verge of marriage. After realising that the police are not satisfied either, Roger puts aside his hurt feelings from their previous collaboration and teams up once again with Inspector Morseby to look into the deaths; but it is the amateur trio that he forms with the sister of the first victim and the fiancé of the third that begins to make headway. Although one of the victims is (we gather) a prostitute, the others would not have let a stranger into their rooms---which implies not just that that the killer is someone the victims knew, but that he knew all of them. By comparing lists of friends and acquaintances, Roger and his collaborators find three names into common, three prime suspects---which presents Roger with something of a moral dilemma, since one of them - the one on whom the police are focusing - happens to be a friend of his, too...

Roger had seen plenty of violent death during his service in France during the war, but dead men are different from dead girls, and girls dead through slow strangulation different from any others. He shuddered in spite of his efforts to control himself as his gaze rested on the distorted face. She may have been pretty in life, but she certainly was not pretty in death. By her sides lay her hands, tightly clenched.
She was a small girl, not much more than five feet in height and slightly built, and she was dressed in her underclothes only, with a light-coloured silk stocking on one leg; the other stocking still lay, though now loosely, round her neck...
  lyzard | Jan 22, 2016 |
An entertaining mystery ruined by anti-Semitism. ( )
  pamelad | May 25, 2013 |
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Roger Sheringham halted before the little box just inside the entrance of The Daily Courier's enormous building behind Fleet Street.
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Gentleman sleuth and novelist Roger Sheringham would not have ordinarily been curious about the suicide of chorus girl Miss Unity Ransome. However, when he receives a cry for help from a country parson attempting to trace his missing daughter, Sheringham finds himself involved. And when three other young women are found hanged dead, by silk stockings, Sheringham realizes that what he is investigating is actually murder.


When the daughter of a country parson goes missing in London, Roger Sheringham receives a letter from her father pleading for help. As the amateur sleuth investigates, he discovers that the girl is already dead, found hanging from a door by her own silk stocking. It is presumed suicide, but when more young women are found dead in the same manner, questions arise. Was it merely copycat suicide, or will the case lead Sheringham into a maze of murder?

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