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Technology taking the fun out of country house murders, says Hercule Poirot

ze murder weapon is een ze dining room behind the police cordon, and to the right of the forensic tent, wheech unfortunately 'as a cast iron alibi'Hercule Poirot has slammed the increasing use of forensic policing techniques by Britain’s rural police forces investigating killings in English country houses. The celebrated Belgian detective claims continued advances in DNA evidence, fingerprinting, and CCTV capabilities are threatening the livelihood of a dying breed of eccentric amateurs working with no obvious qualifications or jurisdiction, while also ending upper class killing sprees before there’s a chance for anything really interesting to happen.

‘Eh bien, mes amis, there is no longer the time to use the little grey cells to sift through the red herrings and trap a murderer weeks later after they lurk around in the background with no obvious motive and a firm alibi,’ he lamented, ‘It is a tragedy that more and more Poirot, finding himself in need of mental stimulation, is having to resort to ze sudoku.’

Poirot’s comments came in the wake of the arrest of Chief Superintendent William Sugden for the murder of 82-year-old Simeon Lee at his mansion in Hampshire last week. Sugden, who was Lee’s unknown illegitimate son, had called in on his father’s estate on a pretext, slit Lee’s throat in his office, locked the door and rigged up the room so that he could pull on a rope outside and make it sound as if a violent struggle was going on. He then distributed potential murder weapons and incriminating private letters in the bedrooms of the house’s legitimate guests, before seducing a parlourmaid in a room with a clock set one hour behind to establish a witness as to his whereabouts at the time of the murder. However, this was all captured on motion sensor-triggered digital HD CCTV cameras linked to the local police station, which Lee had installed after a burglary last year, meaning armed colleagues of the senior officer had surrounded and detained the murderer before the butler had even had time to announce dinner.

‘I’m relieved they caught Sugden so quickly,’ said Stephen Grant, who had posed as the son of Lee’s long-dead business partner to gain access to the house, and is set to inherit millions as he is actually Lee’s other illegitimate son. ‘Admittedly, it does mean that I’ll have to go home now and won’t have the time to fall in love with Teresa Munoz, who was posing as pa’s long-lost Spanish granddaughter Pilar Estravados, who died last year. But swings and roundabouts, eh?’

For one famous Belgian detective, however, it all means he will have to find another way to occupy himself in retirement. ‘With my intimate knowledge of the workings of English country house etiquette and period drama wardrobe, I thought I would be, ‘ow you say, ‘a shoo-in’ for a spot in a Wodehouse adaptation,’ he sighed, ‘but all your imbecile over-privileged toffs are too busy running the country these days, non?’

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Posted: Sep 27th, 2010 by Oxbridge

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