In books by Christie, Sayers and Ngaio Marsh
the mystery writer observes this dictum:
A man or woman, venal cruel and harsh,
shot, stabbed or poisoned, must be the first victim.
With Corpse Number Two, the rules relax;
A kindly person, warm, or even saintly,
dispatched (so the “perp” can cover his tracks)
for sensing whodunit, however faintly.
Henceforth, clues and alibis alike are flimsy —
has someone stolen Madam’s secateurs?
If so, why do Alleyn, Poirot or Wimsey
deduce the fingerprints they bear are hers?
Yet how they charm! Stale plots, dull dialogue,
Manor house murders and footsteps in fog.
The new ones differ — brilliant PD James
created a brooding detective-poet.
Anne Perry’s historical oeuvre proclaims
Victorians were kinky, though loath to show it.
The kudos trenchant Ruth Rendell has garnered
extend to her alias, Barbara Vine,
and sly diabolical Robert Barnard
lampoons England’s bleak, bureaucratic decline.
Where once the motives were classic and clean —
the quartet: love, loathing, lucre and lust —
now sociopathy dominates the scene;
victims dismembered, leather-clad and trussed.
The grey cells are augmented in our day
by Freud and forensics and DNA.