The page numbers are from “Lord Peter” published by Harper & Row. The excerpts are copyrighted 1972 by Harper & Row.
358 ~ Maskelyne-and-Devant contraption
A reference to the popular British magicians John Nevil Maskelyne (1839-1917) and David Devant (1868-1941). Both men had long, distinguished careers, and from 1893 to 1915, formed a profitable partnership.
trail of flex followed it
A power cord
old Winchester man
The doctor was a member of one of the oldest and most prestigious schools in Britain.
“pyorrhoea and necrosis of the jaw”
pyorrhea: A discharge of pus, especially from the gums.
necrosis: A medical term meaning the death of tissue or bone.
360 ~ old place when you’re in pain, like the dying elephants
A reference to the mythical elephants’ graveyard, where legend has the aging beasts go to die. It was a staple of adventure stories set in Africa, because where there are dead elephants, there would also be their ivory tusks, worth a fortune on the market.
361 ~ “not too much of your foul oil of cloves”
oil of cloves: Essential oil derived from the clove plant. It is used in dentistry as an analgaesic.
364 ~ these little saloons
A British word meaning sedan automobile.
Rouse case or no Rouse case
See below for a discussion of the Alfred Rouse case.
369 ~ large injection of hyoscine in the body
hyoscine: A drug derived from the nightshade family of plants. In small amounts, this central nervous system depressant can cause derilium, paralysis and death.
374 ~ He’d studied Rouse and Furnace all right, and profited by their mistakes
Rouse, Furnace: These are two notorious murder cases, both involving killers who set their victim’s bodies on fire.
The Alfred Rouse case involved a commercial traveler (aka traveling salesman) whose head wound suffered during World War I apparently turned him into a Lothario, leaving behind more than 80 scorned women and numerous bigamous marriages, paternity suits and bastard children. Paying the legal expenses and support for his illegitimate children caused a severe financial strain, and he decided to fake his death.
He found a vagrant who agreed to go with him on a job. On Nov. 6, 1930, his car, a Morris Minor, was found in the early morning by two men (photo right). Inside was a body charred beyond recognition. Rouse was arrested in London the next day and he concoted a story about picking up the victim, stopping by the side of the road for a piss, and seeing the car burst into flame after the victim lit a cigarette. Rouse was found guilty of murder and hanged on March 10, 1931. The victim’s body was never identified.
On Jan. 3, 1933, the body of a man seated in front of a charred desk was found after police had put out a fire in a garden shed in Camden Town. On it was found a note: “Goodbye all. No work. No money. Sam J Furnace.” The shed had been rented to Furnace, so it seemed to be a simple case of suicide.
But the coroner examined the body and found that all was not as it seemed. A post office savings book in the name of Walter Spatchett and teeth that were too young for the 42-year-old builder told them that the body was not Furnace. The bullet hole in the back said that it was not suicide.
The manhunt was launched for Furnace, and he was turned in by his brother-in-law after he asked his relative for help. He told police that he decided to fake his suicide after he accidentally shot Spatchett. He never got the opportunity to tell the jury his side of the story. On Jan. 17, 1933, in his cell, he swallowed hydrochloric acid that he had secreted in his overcoat and died the next day.