Silence for the Murderer by Freeman Wills Crofts

Silence for the Murderer was published in 1949 and amongst other things it shows how easily it can be for an honest person to be corrupted by someone that they are besotted with.

Dulcie Heath is a young woman who works as a doctor’s receptionist and the book begins with her rushing to meet Frank Roscoe with whom she has had an ‘understanding’ for years. For the past six years he has been in the army, fighting Hitler and he is now being demobbed.

There’s no doubt about it, Frank is a charmer but Dulcie knows that he isn’t exactly perfect, for one thing he isn’t dependable and he ‘didn’t distinguish sufficiently sharply between what belonged to himself and to others.’ That’s quite a character flaw, I would say.

Frank is completely dishonest and has a chip on his shoulder about not being able to afford to complete his medical studies before the war. When Dulcie manages to get Frank a job at the surgery where she works, it isn’t long before Frank has worked out a way to embezzle money from the wealthy patients.

Dulcie is at first appalled by the idea but the thought of having enough money to be able to get married to Frank and have a place of their own is too much for her, and it isn’t long before she is over-charging the patients who she thinks most likely won’t query the bill. She even listens in to the doctor/patient conversations using a listening system which Frank has managed to rig up for her.

When Frank moves off to take up a position of nurse to a very wealthy elderly man he successfully sweet talks his employer’s daughter. Obviously Frank wants to get his hands on what will be her money.

Meanwhile Dulcie figures out what’s happening and too late she realises that Frank has skedaddled leaving her in a hole. All the evidence of the embezzlement points to Dulcie as being the culprit and Frank has been careful that there is nothing against him at all.

This is a good murder mystery with a twist which I didn’t guess, another comfort read – for me anyway.

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