The Setting: A dark and stormy night batters about the towers of Stringhalt Hall. Down in the stables a lone light flickers briefly. Then, there is a sudden kerfuffle, and a stable boy is sent scurrying for the master.
The Crime: Lord Stringhalt's prize racehorse, Run Fast, by Any Route, out of Harm's Way, is found to be suffering from ... something. Something caused by someone staying at the Hall. But who?
The Suspects/House Guests: 1. The Right Reverend Fistulous Withers, who strongly disapproves of horse racing and associated gambling.
2. Lord Algernon Bastard-Strangles (of the Suffolk Bastard-Strangles). He is rumoured to be head over hocks in debt.
3. The Honourable Pollyanna (known to her friends as Poll) Evil, Lord Stringhalt's fiancee, of whom it has been said that "she is no better than she should be."
4. Messieurs Mallenders and Sallenders, solicitors from a long-established legal firm, down from London, but for pleasure? Or business?
The Sleuth: Detective Superintendent Petunia Heaves happens, fortuitously, to also be a guest.
The Big Accusation Scene: Everyone is gathered in the stable, looking shifty. The sleuth examines Run Fast for clues and then ...
Who Done It?: ... without a word, Detective Superintendent Heaves goes to the tack room, returns, and hands Lord Stringhalt a small pot of something pungent. An ointment made of pig oil and sulphur.
Lord Stinghalt takes a sniff and gasps, "Does this mean Run Fast will be able to run fast after all? And does this also mean that ... " He turns and points a horrified finger at the gathered guests.
Heaves nods. "That's right," she says. "The lawyers done it."
How did she know?
(A Clue: The suspects' - indeed, everyone's - names in this story have a connection ...)
(The Point: Started as a post on naming characters and got, er, away from me a little.)
Joan Lennon's website.
Joan Lennon's blog.
With grateful acknowledgement to Karen Bush.