Captured by their Past
by Miguel Arrufat Millan
Trafford Publishing

"When we went to help him nothing could be done. I leaned toward him, touched him on his neck and said, 'He is dead.'"

The game is afoot, and the subject is murder in this short homage to classic British mysteries. An author is having dinner with his sons plus an old friend when he rises to make a toast. He then keels over stone dead. Poison is the murder weapon, and soon an intrepid police inspector arrives to survey the premises and question the dinner guests. Before the night is over, one of the author's sons has been arrested for murder, and the old friend, an attorney, is committed to defending him.

As is often the case in tales such as these, additional suspects and multiple motives abound. There's the butler, who was forced to stay in the author's employ when he wanted to return to his native Scotland after the death of his wife. There's the maid, who turned down the author's offer of financial assistance for schooling because she wanted to support her own ambitions. There's the author's editor who has just learned his longtime client, the author, is about to leave him for another firm. Then there's the neighbor, who hasn't lived next door very long, but perhaps long enough. The attorney questions each suspect individually. A trial ensues. Previously hidden information is revealed. The guilty is unmasked. But who indeed is the villain?

Author Millan mines this genre for all the tropes it has to offer. He revels in antiquated cliches one might find in archetypal Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson tales. There is also obvious reverence for the Agatha Christie school of murder most foul. The author's desire to pay tribute to the classic murder mysteries and writers of yesterday comes across admirably.

A 2022 Eric Hoffer Book Award Category Finalist

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