A Question of Death - Death Shall Be Dead

Phryne and Jack are dining at the Cafe Royale. Jack tells Phryne that a man has told him someone is trying to murder him. Phryne asks if someone is trying to murder him and Jack says he doesn’t know but the man says he was shot at. He says the man is a cantankerous old man who lives alone and has no money so he doesn’t see why someone would want to kill him. The old man says someone is trying to buy his house and offered a lot of money but he won't sell.

Jack tells Phryne the mans name is Albie Jackson. Jack then tells Phryne he is studying poetry specifically Chaucer at night school and ask Phryne what she has been doing. Phryne says not much and tells Jack about a couple of cases. When they are leaving Phryne tells Jack to see who owned Albie Jackson's house before him.

The next day Phryne is relaxing at home when Jack rings and tells Phryne that Albie Johnson's place caught fire the night before and three people are dead despite the fact that the fire was put out fast. Jack tells Phryne one of the dead was a client of hers Thomas Mason. Phryne says Thomas Mason was a creep and his wife was her client as she wanted a divorce. Jack says the wife is also one of the dead people but no one can identify her so Phryne agrees to do the job. Phryne wonders who would want to kill Mrs Mason other than her bank robber husband.

Phryne arrives at the house and finds it burnt through. She notes it must have been a dump even before the fire. She makes her way to the kitchen and sees three bodies slumped around the kitchen table. Phryne identifies Mrs Mason and asks when her husband got out of jail. Jack said the day before and Mrs Mason's landlady said he collected her from the house and even though she was terrified she went with him. Jack tells her the other dead man is Foxy Harris another bank robber.

The doctor arrives and says the deaths were caused by cyanide poisoning and the deaths happened less than 12 hours before. Phryne asks where Albie Jackson is and the police say they have found him mutilated on the back porch of the house along with his dog. Albie had flat iron burns on his chest. The doctor says Albie has been tortured but was not poisoned and probably died of heart failure. Jack takes the dog with him and asks Phryne if she has any ideas about the case. Phryne says that if someone was trying to buy Albies house there must be something special about it. Jack says he will find out who owned the house before Albie and then they can search it properly.

A constable comes back with some food and water for the dog from a neighbour across the street. The neighbour says she needs to talk to Jack. The dog eats and they notice it has been hurt and Jack asks the constable to check the bodies for a dog bite.

The neighbour says the dog is called Anubis and tells Jack that Mr Jackson was a strange man that used to be a chemist but when his wife died he lost interest in things. Jack ask if she had heard anything and she says her daughter heard a car at 11 but it was noisy due to the storm. Phryne asks if the neighbour knew the old owners of the house and the neighbour says they were criminals and then man got arrested then the woman left.

After the ambulance men had taken the corpses away Phryne and Jack think about the murder whilst police search the house. Jack says the old owner was called Carr and was in Pentridge for theft and lots of other offences. Phryne and Jack surmise that the robbers thought Albie knew where Carr had hidden his money in the house so tied him up and tortured him but Albie had cyanide from his old chemist supplies and poured it in their drink but they didn’t drink it before he died from the torture. The fire would have started when Mason dying swept a kerosene lamp onto the floor.

Phryne realises where the money would have been hidden and goes back into the house. She asks where the dog slept. The constable points to some blankets. Phryne removes them and finds a trap door. She pulls up the floorboards to reveal the money. Phryne tells them that Anubis was the god of the dead but also the guardian of hidden treasure.

Jack is back home with his family and the dog when Phryne calls to ask him how his Chaucer is going and tells him to read the pardoners tale. Jack reads the pardoners tale and sees the correlation with the case.  

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